Have Arsenal fans overreacted?
Wenger could have the last laugh
Monday 10th April saw Arsenal’s season hit rock-bottom. Beaten 3-0 by London rivals, and relegation-contenders, Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, the anti-Wenger feeling reached its peak. Long-suffering fans had run out of patience with their gaffer – they wanted him out, the sooner the better, and they wanted his overpaid duds gone too.
They looked to have a point, at the time anyway, but seasons aren’t won and lost in 90-minutes, as the old saying goes – form is temporary, class is permanent, and Arsene Wenger may just be about to show us his real class.
Wenger’s love for Arsenal unwavering
The Frenchman did well to keep his composure in the face of such criticism. Ongoing demonstrations from fans, former professionals making a mockery of the experienced man, players hiding on the pitch and in the medical room. It looked like exiting the Emirates in the summer would be the best option, for everyone.
Instead, the 67-year-old, who told the press recently he has no plans to retire, stuck it out, and seems to be getting the results his dedication to the club deserves. Strangely enough, it was wins over the Manchester duo that turned things around, and they now have every chance of a top-four finish and FA Cup triumph.
Arsenal were far from convincing in the third round of the nation’s favourite knockout competition, sneaking past Preston 2-1, but followed that with a 5-0 win over Southampton at St Mary’s, 2-0 vs Sutton and 5-0 vs Lincoln. Hardly the most difficult run of matches, but the best was yet to come.
Gunners aiming for FA Cup glory
Wenger followed that hurtful 3-0 loss to Palace with a poor 2-1 win over Middlesbrough, but rallied his troops to beat antepost FA Cup favourites Man City in the semi-finals at Wembley. Written off by just about everyone before the off, they battled back from a goal down to win 2-1, Monreal getting the equaliser and Sanchez grabbing an extra-time decider.
That placed them in the final with Chelsea, and the 12-time winners now have the chance to set a record with a 13th success. They beat Chelsea 2-0 in the finale back in 2002, and have won two of the last three FA Cup finals. Could another upset be on the cards? Certain sections of the support would have a cheek to cheer if the manager did pull it off.
Top-four finish a real possibility
A top-four finish, which seems to be the minimum Wenger expects from his side when setting out pre-season goals, isn’t an impossible feat either. They beat Manchester United 2-0 at the weekend, their third league win in four, moving Arsenal to within two points of The Red Devils in fifth. They play their game in hand against Southampton on Wednesday, win that and they’ll leapfrog United, and go three points behind City and the Champions League slots.
Do the job on Wednesday and Arsenal will face a run-in that won’t frighten backers. Stoke away on Saturday followed by three home games on the bounce, vs an already relegated Sunderland, an out-of-form Everton, and then Chelsea, who could’ve already won the league by then. Put all that together and we come to the conclusion – some frantic Arsenal fans should’ve shown their leader a bit more loyalty, and our price on a top-four finish looks worth a pop.