Saturday, February 29, 2020

Could winning the Europa League save Arsene Wenger’s job?

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As somebody who watches Arsenal on a regular basis, I have to say that the Gunners are a strange team. On their day, they can be outstanding and take teams apart, especially at the Emirates Stadium.

However, on other days they are capable of slip-ups of the biggest proportions. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is one of the reasons for the team’s such inconsistencies. The French boss has been at the club for over two decades.

Some Arsenal fans believe he has been at the club two decades too long, as the team has been in decline. Wenger will have just one year left on his contract in the summer and it seems the majority of Gunners fans want to see the veteran boss exit this summer.

Europa League could be Wenger’s saving grace

Arsenal are sixth-place in the table, a massive 13 points behind fourth-place arch-rivals Tottenham in the fight for Champions League spots. Well, when I say fight, it is now more look a drunk attempted to hit a bouncer on Saturday at 3 am.

In truth, the Gunners have no chance of finishing in the Premier League’s top-four this season. A return to Europe’s elite competition was always going to be the aim this season for the north London side.

However, there could be one saving grace for the Gunners in that much-maligned competition called the Europa League. The Europa League feels like the illegitimate child of the Champions League sometimes.

Many English clubs have decried the competition by playing weakened teams and having their priorities elsewhere. Any big club worth their salt are in the Champions League, or that is what UEFA and the media want us to believe.

However, getting into the Champions League from finishing in the top-four is becoming increasingly difficult, so winning the Europa League seems like a good alternative to qualify for Europe’s elite competition. Those who joke about Arsenal playing Thursday night football may well have their smiles wiped off their face if the Gunners win the competition.

The Gunners have one foot in the semi-final of the competition after a 4-1 home win over CSKA Moscow on Thursday night. The second leg in the Russian capital should be a formality.

Wenger’s side has remained one of the favourites to win the competition for much of the campaign. In fact, they are now second favourites at odds of 5/2 to lift the trophy this season.

The Gunners biggest rivals for the trophy will seemingly be Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid. The Spaniards have Champions League pedigree, never mind Europa League pedigree. Diego Simeone’s side are likely to be formidable opponents in the semi-final or the final.

May not be enough to win back Arsenal fans

Such has been the teams decline in recent years under Wenger that even winning the Europa League may not be enough for Gunners fans to want the veteran French boss to stay beyond the summer.

The clubs hierarchy may have different ideas to the fans, though, just as they have for a long time in north London. The Gunners top brass seemed satisfied with just finishing in the top-four. Meanwhile the fans wanted a return to realistically challenging for the title.

Wenger is part of the furniture at Arsenal. However, like furniture that is 20 years old, he is badly dated. The French boss has complained about people criticising him because of his age.

To be fair nobody would have a problem with his age if he were moving the club forward. Veteran bosses can still thrive if they adapt, just like Sir Alex at United. The Scot adapted and won the Premier League title in his 70’s.

Wenger repeating that feat seems highly unlikely. If the Frenchman has his way, he would probably be carried out of the north London club in a wooden box.

Arsene Wenger’s future is still unclear. History has told us that he is a survivor and the clubs hierarchy back him due his past success. Whatever happens in the future, winning the Europa League certainly could not do Wenger’s chances of staying on at the Emirates Stadium beyond this season.

Could winning the Europa League save Arsene Wenger’s job?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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