Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is under pressure from fans after a run of disappointing results.
Following on from Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, the Gunners now sit just a point clear of the Toffees who have a game in hand.
Defeats at Stamford Bridge, Anfield and the Britannia in recent weeks have seen the resurgence of anti-Wenger conversations in the media and the blogosphere with some citing the French coach’s reluctance to spend in January as a reason for Arsenal’s decline from top of the Premier League on New Year’s Day to scrapping for fourth with just fives games left to play.
Flash back to August 17th last year and the atmosphere at the Emirates as the Gunners lost 3-1 to Aston Villa on the opening day was angry, frustrated and disillusioned. As I sat in the stands where the ‘spend some f***ing money’ chants resounded around, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the final straw for the Arsenal faithful.
The club had lost the opening game of the season to a team that had struggled for survival in the previous season in front of their home fans and the club had yet to spend a penny in the transfer window with just 15 days left to run.
Arsenal went to Fenerbahce with a makeshift team and won 3-0 four days later, won at Fulham and then beat Fenerbahce at home in the return leg before they hosted Tottenham for the first North London derby of the campaign on September 1st, the eve of the deadline.
Mesut Ozil was signed for a club record fee of £42.5 million on September 2nd and the rest, as they say, is history. Until now.
After eight years without a trophy, the Gunners are now out of the Premier League title race, out of the Champions League and the Capital One Cup and this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against holders Wigan at Wembley could very well the be tipping point. A win to take them to the final would surely give the club, team and supporters enough of morale boost to see the heat turned down at least until the final but a defeat this weekend could see the manager, who has yet to officially agree a new deal to stay on, consider stepping down after 18 years in charge.
In the modern era of football where everything is a ‘crisis’ often fuelled by the media and press, the longest serving manager in the league and a manager who has achieved such success within such tight restraints over his tenure is now in seriously jeopardy of losing the fans. It remains debatable as to whether the fans who attend matches regularly feel the same way as fans who don’t but still post comments across the globe.
Signing Ozil in September seemed to take the heat out of the ‘Wenger Out’ campaign and the whole club was lifted for months, after all at the turn of the year, the Gunners were top of the table and still in the Champions League. Now it seems the same concerns are back again that the club is profiteering and that the manager doesn’t want to spend the well-documented available resources as well as concerns about performances of the pitch, concerns over the team’s defending and the manager’s perceived tactical naivety.
Just like that day back in August as the home fans flooded towards the exits 10 minutes before full time when Antonio Luna’s goal put the game to bed, I can’t help but sense this Saturday at Wembley could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. A victory over Championship side Wigan is the only tonic for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger and I believe the pressure on the boss is every bit as stifling as it was prior to the signing of Mesut Ozil.