Despite currently sitting fifth in the Premier League and remaining in contention to win the FA Cup this season, Arsenal are facing a crisis that has engulfed the entire football club.
The seeds of this have been sewn over the course of a 12-year period that has delivered just three major trophies and a dearth of league titles, although the last 18 months have seen the relationships between the players, the fans and the manager plummet to a new low.
At the beginning of last season, the Gunners were riding the crest of a wave that had seen them land two consecutive FA Cups successes (their first major honours for nine years).
They had also added world class quality in the form of Mesut Oil and Alexis Sanchez over the course of the previous years, as Wenger finally began to spend some of the cash that the club had painstakingly earned since the development of the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners also climbed to the top of the league last December, as teams such as Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea trailed in their wake.
Why the Fall-out With Sanchez is Symbolic of the Issues Facing Arsenal
Arsenal’s inability to capitalise on the failure of the major rivals and overhaul unlikely champions Leicester City eventually cost them their title tilt, of course, while the club also failed to build on previous successes by adding another major trophy.
The cycle has been repeated this season, following a seventh consecutive exit at the first Champions League knock-out stage and a disappointing loss in the EFL Cup.
While the club still remain in the FA Cup, they are also facing up to the prospect of finishing outside of the top four for the first time in 17 years.
This prolonged cycle of promise and failure appears to have caught up with manager Arsene Wenger, who is surely approaching the end of his time at the Emirates. After all, the team’s struggles have been exacerbated by growing conflict between the manager, his players and the fans, with star forward Alexis Sanchez the latest to have experienced a bust-up with Wenger.
Such is the current state of affairs that bookies put Sanchez at 5/2 for a switch to PSG in August. Others are not ruling out a move to the high paying Chinese Super League at 18/1. Whatever the scenario, match day predictions, like these at Big Free Bet, are likely to be closely watched by punters up until the end of the season.
Given the quality and the commitment that Sanchez has shown even during Arsenal’s recent struggles, this reported falling out is perhaps the most symbolic representation of the Gunners’ sustained fall from grace.
While Wenger has, of course, played down talk of a clash, Sanchez’s teammate Theo Walcott has confirmed that a training ground incident and further disagreements in the dressing room have undermined the Gunners’ unity of late.
If further reports are to be believed, Sanchez has grown disillusioned with Arsenal’s inability to compete at the highest level, while the decision of Wenger to leave the Chilean out of the starting line-up against Liverpool created a tipping point in the relationship.
The Bottom Line: Why the Future Looks Bleak for Arsenal
The apparent breakdown between Wenger and his talisman seems symbolic, with the likely departure of Sanchez in the summer having the potential to trigger an exodus.
The underperforming Mesut Ozil has already turned down a new contract, for example, while players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also being primed for a move away from the Emirates.
The club’s current plight may well be a blessing in disguise, however, as a new managerial philosophy and mentality offers Arsenal a chance at redemption.
Similarly, the recruitment of new players could also strengthen the Gunners both physically and mentally, enabling them to approach a new chapter in their history with confidence and optimism.