Cape Town - Unai Emery remained defiant when asked about the
possibility of being replaced by Jose Mourinho after seeing his Arsenal side's
draw Vitoria Guimaraes.
The spectre of former Chelsea and Manchester United boss
Mourinho has started to hang over Emery as reports continue to link the
Portuguese to the Arsenal hotseat.
The Gunners denied suggestions over the weekend that
Mourinho had dined with Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi as pressure
continues to build on Emery.
Another poor performance saw Arsenal lucky to leave
Guimaraes with a 1-1 draw as Shkodran Mustafi’s header was cancelled out by an
injury-time bicycle kick from Bruno Duarte.
It was the fourth time in 10 days that Arsenal have failed
to hold onto a lead and Mustafi’s 80th-minute effort was their first shot on
target in a game where they toiled in the Portuguese rain.
Mourinho’s presence in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago
ramped up the theories that he was a potential replacement should Emery lose
Asked about the Mourinho links and the fan criticism aimed
at him following recent performances, Emery simply replied: “I am the coach.”
The Spaniard has already had to deal with stripping Granit
Xhaka of the captaincy after he swore at Arsenal’s fans as he was jeered
following his substitution in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
The mounting pressure on his position will be tested once
again this weekend as they visit high-flying Leicester but – despite a run of
one win in six games across all competitions – Emery insists he seems progress
on the pitch.
“In this competition, our objective is to be the first in
the group,” he said.
“We are going to play the next two matches to make sure of that
position and now we are going to prepare the match against Leicester in a
Vitoria were bottom of Group F and had failed to take a
single point ahead of Arsenal’s visit.
But, after twice taking the lead in north London before two
Nicolas Pepe free kicks secured a 3-2 win for Emery’s s side, they would get
something here following another strong performance.
Their own Pepe hit the crossbar with Marcus Edwards and
Edmond Tapsoba drawing great saves from Emiliano Martinez in a first half
dominated by the Primeira Liga side.
They then rallied after falling behind and levelled through
Duarte’s fine last-gasp effort before pushing for the win – almost finding it
as Mustafi accidentally steered a cross inches wide of his own post before
Rochinha’s drilled shot flashed across goal.