We take a closer look at five games and their results that proved disastrous for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal with respect to the present campaign.
Arsene Wenger’s over-20 years reign at Arsenal could come to an end this season if the fans get their way. The Frenchman’s future remains uncertain as reports of a possible extension of his contract continue to flood the media, and odds of him leaving or staying on the bookmaker 10bet are fluctuating.
After another disappointing season which could see them missing out in the Champions League next season, the once-loving fans have seemingly turned their back on their manager and desperately want him replaced at all cost.
Whatever excuse Wenger might have, his team have stuttered against top opposition and have faltered against teams they should have defeated. In the light of the aforementioned, here are five games that ruined Wenger and Arsenal’s campaign this season.
Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 – August 2016
The Gunners looked forward to the new season with high expectations and were ready to make a statement in the title race after finishing second the previous season – their highest in recent seasons.
The visit of Liverpool on the opening day provided them the opportunity to prove their title credentials but their defensive frailties gave them away as they went from 1-0 up to 4-1 down by the 63rd minute. They pulled two goals back but the damage was already done.
Even though the defensive woes could be chalked down to the injuries to key defensive options, one can also point the finger at Wenger and Arsenal’s inability to bring in faces quickly, before the season started.
Man City 2 Arsenal 1 – December 2016
The Gunners were unbeaten in the league for three months but missed the chance to move to the top of the league standings, losing consecutively to Everton and Man City from winning positions.
They had dominated against Everton but fell apart later on and after leading by a lone goal at the break at the Etihad, Arsenal were undone by Pep Guardiola’s tactical change at half time which Wenger had no response to.
Many believe this was the true turning point of Arsenal’s campaign and the Gunners simply failed to recover from here, despite actually knitting together a neat small run afterwards.
Arsenal 1 Watford 2 – February 2017
The game was touted as a comfortable victory for Arsenal. Watford came into the game on the back of a poor run of results while Arsenal looked imperious, with the Gunners on a 5 game unbeaten streak going into the game.
Victory over the Hornets would have cut Chelsea’s lead at the top to six points but that was not to be, as the Gunners fell to a disappointing 2-1 loss at home. Watford winning at Emirates Stadium can be referred to as the turning point in Arsenal’s title race. And another loss to Chelsea the following weekend widened the gap to 12 points.
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 5 – March 2017
Arsenal are no Barcelona. There was little to no hope that they would manage to overturn a four-goal deficit after being thumped 5-1 at the Allianz Arena two weeks earlier but to concede four goals in 17 minutes at the Emirates is more embarrassing than the former.
They were 1-0 up at the break with the fans wishing for a miracle to avoid another round of 16 exit from the champions league but the manner in which Arsenal capitulated after Laurent Koscienly’s red card as the tie ended 10-2 aggregate raised questions about their winning mentality.
The Gunners were knocked out at this stage for the seventh consecutive season and the fans were disappointed by the consistent lack of drive to improve on their earlier UEFA Champions League campaigns. The aggregate result was absolutely demeaning of a great club like Arsenal and this was when the fans had reached the tipping point.
West Brom 3 Arsenal 1 – March 2017
Still feeling the heat of their embarrassing exit from the Champions League, Wenger’s men made the trip to the Hawthorns who did nothing but to add to their woes. With plane carrying banners for and against Wenger, the Gunners fell to a 3-1 defeat a their frailties were once again exposed.
The banners showed that the fans were divided among themselves on whether the Frenchman was fit to carry the club forward. But, the defeat could very well have resulted in a massive shift of opinions, with even the staunchest of Wenger supporters now hoping for a managerial change.
Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal as a manager of the club and has managed to turn it into a brand, much like imperious, shrewd and successful people in history have done with respect to their businesses, estates or ruling territories.
However, the Frenchman now risks damaging the very brand he has created over the years. And while he remains tight-lipped over his future, he may himself now be aware that it may well be time to move on, finally.
Wenger seems to have lost the supporters, lost the dressing room and seemingly, his own former touch as well. And while the Board continues to throw support behind him, it might just be the moment to call time on what has been a truly great reign. Lest, he runs the risk of damaging his legacy.