Thursday, February 16, 2012

Could Milan Mauling be the Final Nail in Wenger's Coffin?

Arsenal face a near impossible task in their bid to advance in the 2012 UEFA Champions League following their humiliation at the hands of Italian giants AC Milan last night. Outclassed in every department against experienced European opposition, an agitated Arsene Wenger condemned and lamented his side's performance - conceding that Arsenal failed to acquit themselves during any stage of the tie and were adequately punished by their superior opposition.
     Wenger has already faced away day humiliation earlier this season having seen his side torn apart 8-2 at Old Trafford in August, but this defeat in many ways emphasised his team's shortcomings to an even greater extent than that memorable afternoon in Manchester - in spite of a marginally less outlandish looking scoreline.
     Arsenal's defensive frailties - so often an Achilles heel of the team as a whole under Wenger - were highlighted throughout the fixture and continuously exploited by Milan, while even in attack The Gunners were unusually ineffective against what proved to be stereotypically well drilled and highly organized Italian opposition. Even Robin Van Persie - so often a prolific goal scorer, the “Go To” player and to some extent, a beacon of hope for Arsenal in a fast fading this season - proved woefully ineffective, and was replaced by an aging Thierry Henry at the half way point. The substitution was not to have any bearing on the result however, and left the French forward (with what will surely now be his last appearance for the club at which he excelled on countless occasions) with a final Arsenal sendoff he would surely rather forget.
     The English sporting press this morning were unsparingly scathing of the Arsenal manager – with The Daily Telegraph dubbing last night's performance a "watershed filled with tears" for Arsene Wenger - for so long now regarded as a continually successful, pioneering and forward thinking figure in the English game. However, unless Arsenal can rally quickly for their now all important FA cup tie against a resurgent Sunderland side this weekend, Wenger- for so long a staunch defender of his football philosophy of developing youth and promoting attacking flair (sometimes critics would argue at the expense of winning trophies) - must surely now face up to the almost inconceivable prospect of leaving his post at the end of the current campaign as Arsenal look to reassess and rebuild.

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