The pressure on Arsenal manager Unai Emery intensified as Daichi Kamada’s brilliant double earned Eintracht Frankfurt victory at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners boss came into this match having failed to lead his team to victory in their previous six outings and left the pitch to jeers from a sparse crowd, with some supporters holding ‘Emery Out’ posters.
They would have been concerned by the manner in which their side surrendered control against a team who were a clear second best in the first period.
Arsenal will now have to avoid defeat at Standard Liege in their final Europa League Group F game to be certain of a spot in the last 32.
It looked like the Gunners had turned the corner after they dominated the opening period. Eintracht spent most of it trying to keep Arsenal’s attack at bay until old foe Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made the breakthrough with his strike just before half-time.
The Bundesliga side only managed one shot on goal in the first half, but were transformed after the break and equalised when Kamada curled in a fierce effort from the edge of the box.
The 23-year-old Japan international then put his side in front with another sweet strike from the edge of the area.
The contest also marked the return of Granit Xhaka to the Arsenal XI. The Swiss midfielder had missed the Gunners’ past five matches after his infamous substitution in the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the end of October.
He appeared to pick up a knock to the knee in the first half but following treatment played the full 90 minutes.
Arsenal’s attack dominates first half
What now for Emery?
The 48-year-old, given the task of moulding a new Arsenal after succeeding Arsene Wenger in 2018, is now odds-on with some bookmakers to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job.
The Europa League had offered some respite from the difficulties of the top flight, where his side have only won four of their 13 games, but the same problems reared their head on a forgettable night at the Emirates.
It was all smiles on the Arsenal bench in the first half, and the only issue Emery had to contend with was being told he had to change his jacket because it clashed with Eintracht’s colours.
Even the 31st-minute departure of the injured David Luiz, who was playing in midfield, did not upset the Gunners’ rhythm as the attack of Aubameyang, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka continually troubled the opposition backline.
Martinelli had a shot blocked and header cleared off the line while Aubameyang nodded wide before he swept home the Brazilian’s low cross just before half-time.
It was the former Borussia Dortmund striker’s 10th in 13 appearances against the Bundesliga club and his 31st goal in 44 appearances for the Gunners at the Emirates.
However, it was a very different story for the home side in the second half.
Leaky Gunners defence pays price again
The two substitutions coach Adi Hutter made to his attack appeared to revitalise Eintracht, but his players were aided by some poor Arsenal defending.
The lively Kamada was allowed to advance towards the edge of the area by Sokratis before launching a brilliant strike past keeper Emiliano Martínez, and was then given even more space to line up his second, which found the same corner.
That was the 18th goal conceded by Arsenal in nine games,
Former Gunners defender Martin Keown labelled their second-half display an “absolute shambles” and said they were showing “relegation form”.
He told BT Sport: “The team selection, the team motivation, the substitutions, the performance, everything was missing here. It was a dreadful performance.
“The fans turned many years ago on Terry Neil – 37 years ago. I was at the club when it happened and things got very toxic at the club, I think we are getting close to that again.
“Is Emery able to motivate this team? He seems to have lost the players – the desire seems to have ebbed away.
“I think maybe the manager may be in a position where he feels he needs to step aside now. Serious questions need to be asked. This is as bad as I have seen it.
“This is relegation form [when they return to Premier League action]. Decisions need to be made, otherwise the club is going to plunge further down the table.”
More to follow.