Football

Arsenal malaise could persuade Arsene Wenger to walk away

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has remained adamant that his commitment to the club is not in question despite a dreadful recent run of results, but even the Premier League's longest-serving manager must be questioning his long-term position following this afternoon's capitulation against Everton.

Wenger's men were outclassed by an Everton side who now look well placed to end Wenger's terrific record of qualifying for the Champions League across 16 consecutive seasons, condemning the Gunners to a 3-0 defeat by playing with a style, verve and energy that been a hallmark of past classy Arsenal sides under the Frenchman.

The Gunners have now won just two of their last nine Premier League matches, which is a run that even injuries to key players in all areas cannot justify.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez managed to make today's opponents look positively pedestrian with with a few tactical tweaks that worked to perfection, the best of which saw Romelu Lukaku switched out wide to brutally expose Arsenal's left-sided pairing of Nacho Monreal and Lukas Podolski.

Travelling Arsenal fans have watched their side concede five at Anfield, six at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad and now three at Goodison Park, consistently falling short against the top sides on the road with alarming regularity.

Supporters looking for someone to blame were given plenty of ammunition to single out Wenger for criticism this afternoon, with the decision not to make changes at half-time, by which time Arsenal had already built a two-goal lead.

Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain eventually arrived on the 66th minute but the game was already up, after Mikel Arteta had clipped an unfortunate third into his own net.

You have to think that Wenger was mindful of not risking a hiding by throwing caution to the wind, but against a direct rival for Champions League that psyche is a damning indictment of just how wrong it's gone at the Emirates for a side who were top of the table when they last visited Merseyside in February.

Wenger's men have badly missed the pace of Theo Walcott and Ramsey's willingness to get beyond Olivier Giroud into the penalty area, with poor results and key absentees all making next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Wigan Athletic look all the more pivotal.

On a big Wembley pitch Arsenal must find a way to control the game and combat a stark lack of pace in all areas, or make no mistake Wigan Athletic have the tool to end their trophy dream for another season despite being a Championship side.

Failure to win that game and the trophy full stop will likely turn the atmosphere at the Emirates positively toxic over the next few weeks, leaving Wenger with a very difficult decision to make over his future.

The Frenchman has the full backing of the board, no question there, but he has repeatedly stated he will only stay as long as feels certain he can take the club forward.

Over the last three months the goalposts have changed, Wenger must evolve or be extinct and ask some very tough questions of himself and the players he trusts regardless of whether the now minimum expectations of fourth place and a trophy are met come the middle of May.

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Topics:
Football
Arsenal
Premier League

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