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Tuesday, 08 April 2014

Arsenal: Is it time for Wenger to go?

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In January, Arsenal looked like potential Premier League champions. Today - following another heavy away defeat - they are in serious danger of missing out on a place in the top four altogether. And there's only one man to blame . . . Arsene Wenger.

Now I've been a long time supporter of the Frenchman. He helped revolutionise football in this country and has given the Arsenal fans some wonderful memories. Unfortunately you have to go back nine long years for the last joyous occasion he masterminded and I'm afraid it's time for him to go. 

At the turn of 2014 Arsenal were in the running for the Treble. They topped the Barclays Premier League, had knocked north London rivals Spurs out of the FA Cup and were looking forward to a Champions League clash with the holders Bayern Munich. Confidence at the Emirates was high and the fans were beginning to dream.

With the transfer window open, everyone expected Arsenal to push the boat out and improve their chances of success by signing a top class striker. Not only would this take the pressure off the fatigued Olivier Giroud and provide cover for the injured Theo Walcott, but it would give everyone at the club a lift going into the business end of the season. 

Wenger outI could see it, the thousands at the Emirates could see it. Hell even pop legend Stevie Wonder and former politician David Blunkett could see it. But the stubborn Frenchman shot their chances in the foot by keeping his money firmly tucked away in his back pocket.

We all knew what was going to happen next - it's been Groundhog Day at Arsenal for the past eight years. Challenge for honours until February and then watch the wheels come off. But nobody expected Arsenal to suffer so badly. Liverpool put five past them in a dire afternoon at Anfield and the unfortunate defeat at Stoke City truly took the wind out of their sails. But worse was to come as Chelsea thrashed them 6-0, Swansea held them to a draw at home and then Champions League rivals Everton outmuscled them in a comfortable 3-0 win.

Sunday's result has left Arsenal in a perilous position. They currently sit just one point above the Toffees, who have a game in hand on the Gunners. 

At one time the title was in Arsenal's own destiny. Today they are hoping other teams can do them a favour by taking points off Everton in order to secure a Champions League place.

The Gunners' only chance of ending their nine-year trophy drought now comes in the form of the FA Cup, but a season that promised so much looks to be ending on a low. 

Wenger is an Arsenal legend. He will go down as the greatest manager in the club's history, but the time has surely come for him to go. 

Arsenal have lost a wealth of top class talent over the past nine years and they have simply not been replaced. Henry, Vieira, Nasri, RVP, Fabregas, Adebayor, Cole have all left for pastures new, but the financial restraints of their move to the Emirates forced Wenger to be economical with the cash. In that respect Wenger deserves great credit for keeping Arsenal in the top four. But his judgement and eye for talent has been way off. Chamakh, Gervinho and Santos should never have even set foot in the Emirates let alone wearing an Arsenal shirt. 

From having watched the lethal and creative guile of Henry and Bergkamp terrorising the league, in the past few years Arsenal fans have been forced to watch the likes of Gervinho and Bendtner miss chance after chance after chance.

Some people believe that Wenger deserves the chance to put Arsenal back where they belong. That having guided the club through the big-money move to the Emirates that Wenger should be allowed to spend big once again. The big question now though is do you trust Wenger to spend that money wisely? 

For years people have told him that he needs to sign another goalkeeper, re-enforce the back four, bring a composing central midfielder to the club and at least one world class striker. But Wenger has continually refused to bow to public opinion. I'm pretty certain that had Arsenal not lost to Villa on the opening day of the season that he would not have broken the club's transfer record on Mesut Ozil.

Even Arsenal's style of play has become stale. Teams across the country have adopted Wenger's philosophy but are getting more out of their players. Look at Liverpool. They are doing what Arsenal used to do. Terrorise opponents with fast players, quick breaks and lethal finishing. Today Arsenal have no-one seemingly willing to get behind the back four and penetrating the opposition. Of course Walcott will do that when he comes back, but by then Arsenal could be looking at a spell in the Europa League.

So come on you Gooners. Is it time for Wenger to go? I'd love to hear from you.

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Antony Melvin



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