Talking Soccer: Wenger legacy in danger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger follows the game, during the English Premier League soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal, at The Hawthorns, in West Bromwich, England, Saturday March 18, 2017. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)

It has been over 10 years since Arsenal finished outside of the top four in the Premier League, however, it looks like this could be the year for it to happen again. Arsene Wenger has fallen out of favor once again with the fans, and the team has not been playing well, highlighted by their last 3-1 loss to West Brom. All this leaves the question as to what happened to push the team into such disarray so quickly, and if it was Wenger who is to blame. Fans purchased “Wenger Out” banners to fly above the stadium to show where they stood on the subject, as Wenger’s contract comes to an end this year. Arsenal is expected to show their hand by the end of the week and announce whether or not Arsene Wenger’s contract will be extended at the end of the year.

Arsenal was flying high earlier this year, working cohesively as a team on and off the field. Despite a pretty good start to the season and new signings that looked like they could add the necessary depth to the squad, recent losses to rivals in the league caused them to fall apart and start a descent that looks to be their undoing. A big factor on the pitch has been Alexis Sanchez and his attitude; lots of complaining, not tracking back and a general bad attitude has culminated in him handing in transfer papers and requesting Arsene Wenger trade him out across Europe in the summer. This behavior is unacceptable and has started to permeate throughout the club with bad play plaguing most of the team. It takes more level-headedness to be a team player and become the star player Sanchez is on the verge of becoming, but with a serious fall from grace here, he could soon find himself in the bargain bin, as so many Barcelona players have.

The only thing Arsenal have left is a chance to play for an FA Cup Final like they did in 2013 and 2014, yet they still need to go through Manchester City in the next round. Many fans would rather they lose that game, with the two previous championships being seen as a key factor in Wenger keeping his job back then. After the previous decade where the team won three Premier Leagues, spoiled fans scoff at the idea of caring to win a competition that is seen as an opportunity for lower-tier teams to win.

The club is definitely in a weak spot due to rumors saying Mesut Ozil may be departing from the club in the summer as well. Finishing outside of the top four would mean no Champions’ League next season and no top striker or attacking midfielder. The best thing that could happen for the club could quite possibly be Wenger leaving with his buddy Ozil, and letting the team rebuild for the future. Bild has reported that the team may be looking at Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel, although it looks like the decision on whether the team moves on or not lays in the hands of Arsene Wenger. If he truly believes he will be able to take the Gunners into the next era of greatness like he brought did as coach over 10 years ago, then he should stay, but if he has any doubts, he should move on and allow another younger coach to help move the club into the future. No matter the decision, he will have a tough time finishing the season with rivals Tottenham Hotspurs up seven points in the table and with an easier schedule to finish. If the Spurs finish above Arsenal for the first time in Wenger’s coaching legacy, then he will have a tough time attracting players in the transfer window and maintaining club support in the coming years.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.