Should this be Arsene Wenger’s last season at Arsenal FC? by PH
There may be no greater opportune moment to snatch an elusive Premier League title than the current season… when Chelsea completely stuttered under Jose Mourinho, when Manchester United’s problems are not simply a question of management, when Manchester City struggle with motivation knowing Manuel Pellegrini will not be there in a matter of months and when the winning formula continues to escape Liverpool.
Considering the difficulties endured by other members and past members of the so- called ‘Big Four’, Arsenal should – in theory and on paper, at least – top the table.
But they’re not – and they are not even close. Leicester City deserve credit for sustaining their game to game success and Tottenham Hotspur will also have attracted neutrals for their attack-happy approach and focus on youth development.
But you would not be surprised to see Arsenal finish third, behind Leicester and Spurs, who deserve to be where they are on merit.
This season could have been Arsenal’s. A time to capture a glorious title before an anticipated City and Chelsea resurgence next year. Many of the Arsene Knows brigade are turning… and some have already joined the Wenger Out protests, so should this be the Frenchman’s last season at the Emirates Stadium helm?
Arsene Wenger has been synonymous with one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
No longer will historians admire Herbert Chapman’s revolutionary WM formation and the relentless league wins of the 1930s teams, the hip 1971 double-winning Gunners or the George Graham defence of the early 1990s that inspired an iconic British film.
As Wenger gave Arsenal the Invincibles, Thierry Henry, a title win at White Hart Lane, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg, back-to-back FA Cups and Alexis Sanchez.
But is that enough?
Wenger’s stubbornness in the transfer market has frustrated ever-growing sections of the club’s fan-base.
Arsene claims Arsenal do not need a striker yet should they have signed players they failed to – Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala or Luis Suarez – then one can’t have imagined them floundering against the likes of Swansea City, Hull City (in the first FA Cup fifth round match) and Southampton.
There also seems to be a psychological barrier… Wenger just cannot get wins at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, and Arsenal were even decisively beaten by the worst performing Chelsea side in years.
Arguably the poorest United team of the last 25 years also turned them over recently.
It’s just not good enough for an elite-level manager.
This is where it goes from bad, to worse. But Wenger’s fitness record is woeful and bordering on incompetent. The club jump from one injury crisis to another and as the problems recorded are mostly muscular, it suggests the issues could have been prevented.
Wenger bungled the handling of Sanchez’s return earlier in the season and the introduction of fitness guru Shad Forsythe two years ago has failed to remedy the situation.
If Arsenal had a fully fit squad, like Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur or even Manchester City have had the benefit of for large parts of the season, then Wenger’s fortunes may have been different.
If Wenger does not land the Premier League title it may be regarded as one of his greatest failings. There may be no better invitation for the board to call his time to an end and usher in a new era.
It’s not like there are no alternatives.
Wenger indicated earlier this season that if it became apparent that there were other candidates who could manage Arsenal in a superior fashion than he has done, then he would leave.
Has that time arrived?
What about Guangzhou R&F boss Dragan Stojkovic, former Nagoya Grampus Eight chief? Or other managers speculatively-linked to the position like current assistant Steve Bould, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Diego Simeone or even Carlo Ancelotti?
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