After the 2-0 home defeat this afternoon against Swansea, in which at half time and full time a chorus of boos rang around the Emirates, could Arsene Wenger’s position really be under threat?
After just one win in the last six games, and just three wins in the last 10, Arsenal have found themselves in poor form. With just 21 points from their first 15 league matches this season, it is Arsenal’s worst start to a Premier League campaign since the Frenchman took charge back in the autumn of 1996.
Many fans seem to be losing patience with the vision of Arsene Wenger, trying to bring through youth players and staying loyal to his strict wage structure, having not won a competition since the 2005 FA Cup.
Since the last trophy lifted by Arsenal they have reached two League Cup finals in 2007 and 2010 and a Champions League final in 2006. In the two League Cup finals Arsene Wenger has stayed faithful to the youth that got him to the final, only to lose, as many fans believe the side should have played more competitive sides.
In the seven years that have passed since Arsenal’s last major cup win, rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea have flourished and sides like Manchester City have been able to replace Arsenal in the title race. Even local rivals Tottenham Hotspur are threatening to replace Arsenal in the top four.
Manchester United, the side Arsenal use to compete with for the title during the late nineties and early noughties, have gone on to collect four Premier League titles, three League Cups and a Champions League winners’ medal.
Chelsea who had never finished above Wenger’s Arsenal until 2005 have gone on to win; four FA Cups, three Premier League titles (including 2004-2005 season), two League Cups and the Champions League once.
Manchester City have also emerged as a contender in domestic football winning the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League in 2012 during the Arsenal trophy drought.
Tottenham Hotspur have grown as a threat to the North-London dominance won the League Cup in 2008 during this drought for Arsenal in which Portsmouth have even enjoyed an FA Cup win in 2008.
The most significant moment though came in May 2005, when Arsenal won a penalty shoot-out to beat Manchester United to the FA Cup. The man to deliver the blow that won the cup, Patrick Vieira, the inspirational leader that led ‘the invincible’ Arsenal’s greatest ever team.
It was to be his last kick and is the last time Arsenal won a trophy. Coincident? I think not, Wenger never really seemed to replace the man mountain that was, until Alex Song grew into the role, but who has also since left.
If Arsenal were to finish outside the top four, it could be the last for Arsene Wenger? Well they’ve never finished outside the top four under his stewardship, but haven’t finished inside the top two since 2005.
Sides like Liverpool have found it difficult to get back into the top four since 2009 when they finished in second place.
Arsenal have also found themselves as a selling club since the plans to build their new 60,000 seater stadium. However six years after moving into the Emirates is it time Arsenal break their wage structure which has seen them lose players with the quality of Cole, Henry, Flamini, Hleb, Toure, Adebayor, Fabregas, Clichy, Nasri, van Persie and Song all of whom were pivotal in Arsenal sides that either reached finals or won trophies.
It makes wonder what is next for the current players like Wilshere, Sagna, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Szczesny, Gibbs and Walcott who future is already uncertain.
These players could leave, but it is not a foregone conclusion Arsenal do still have the chance to get rid of this ‘selling’ mentality that surrounds them.
The board and chief executive have made it clear that there are funds available, so what is the situation? Are they telling the fans what they want to hear, or is Wenger too stuck in his ways with his concentration on youth development to bring in players already in the peak years of their careers.
Wenger’s record of replacing the great players he one had, whether inherited or that he has bought to the club has not been great in recent years.
There was David Seaman in goal, who Wenger has never really replaced well enough, the likes of Adams and Bould in defence. Although Campbell came in he went in 2006 and there is a need for a commanding centre half. The centre midfield general has been discussed, but on the left has anyone been as good as Pires, or even close. The likes of Gervinho and Arshavin have not been up to it and Podolski seems never gets chance to finish a game and would rather play through the middle.
What would the best outcome be though for Arsenal who could they bring in who could make changes and bring back trophies? Pep Guardiola’s name would be thrown about, but who a man who has been winning with arguably the best European team of all time want the job; most probably not. Jurgen Klopp from Dortmund, could he be tempted and could he replace a man of the stature of Wenger? Or would he rather carry out his project in Germany.
Domestically though if men from Europe were to say no to the hot seat who could come in? David Moyes from Everton, who has done wonders on a tight budget, although he has himself never, won a major trophy, although he has attained Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final.
Something needs to change, whether that be the mentality and approach of Wenger or a new man, but will the board ever sack a man like Wenger who has got the club running a profit and who has such a legacy at the club.