‘Arsenal are worse now than under Wenger!' - Gunners slammed by Nicholas

The former forward believes Unai Emery's side are at risk of falling behind their top-six rivals and are having to play 'football catch up’

Charlie Nicholas has slammed his former side Arsenal, claiming they are worse this year with Unai Emery at the helm than they were last season under Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners suffered another disappointing evening on Thursday when they lost 3-1 in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie against Rennes, which was compounded alongside the successes of Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea in Europe this week.

And Nicholas, who was speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, was asked whether he believed the Gunners are poorer now than they were 12 months ago.

“I say it all the time,” he responded. “Defensively [they’re a] mess, [there’s no] leadership and no guidance.”

“Even with [Petr] Cech coming back - I can actually see why he’s decided to say ‘I’ve had enough’, because since he’s came to Arsenal it’s been nothing but hard work for him.

“This was a world-class goalkeeper. He’s came to Arsenal to try and give them a little bit of knowledge and assistance as best as he can, and it’s as if they don’t listen. They play, truly, as individuals.”

Arsenal make a quick return to league action when they host Manchester United on Sunday, in a game that could be crucial for their top-four hopes.

“This is a massive game for Arsenal,” said Nicholas, “because if they go and win they actually have a pretty decent run in, because Manchester United have got harder games.

“Chelsea have got tough games, so there’s a real opportunity for Arsenal and I would imagine Manchester United might be a bit tired, although the motivation will keep them going. 

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“Arsenal if they’re not careful, and they were to lose this game, [they might] not even threaten the top four after this, because they can’t get in their stride and Arsenal are playing massive football catch up, not just for the top four, but for reputation.”

Emery’s men trail United in the table by just a single point ahead of Sunday’s meeting, but could move into the top four with a win against their old rivals.

Nicholas played for Arsenal between 1983-1988 and was part of the side that won the League Cup in 1987.