Things are very much not OK at Arsenal at the moment. Two wins since Feb 1, one against a non-league side, and a humiliating exit from the Champions League make for very uncomfortable times in the red half of London right now.
The team, and the club, seem to be lurching from crisis to crisis these days. But let’s be clear: this is a “crisis” that the bottom six teams in the league would give almost anything to be suffering. Arsenal are 12 league games away from the end of the season, and in those 12 games, they must make a case that they deserve to be in the top four, otherwise they’ll finish outside the top four for the first time since before some of you were born.
So really, fourth or sixth isn’t a CRISIS - it’s very much a champagne problem, but it’s still causing a lot of teeth-gnashing and garment-rending. And today, Theo Walcott had his say about what’s been going on:
“Things have happened,” he said. “We can’t be fighting each other. We need to take the pressure off the manager and that will happen by performances.”
And he’s not wrong there. Things have indeed happened. Bad things. And honestly, a large segment of the Arsenal fanbase doesn’t want the pressure taken off the manager - another fourth place or better finish this year, and it could be safely assumed that Arsene will re-up his deal, and that we’ll do this dance again next year and the year after. And very few people seem to want that any more.
This is shaping up to be the most pivotal summer in Arsenal’s modern history. It’s not just the Wenger decision, and not just the contracts of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, who may well be half way out the door by now, according to the Guardian...
(Alexis) is believed to have a massive offer from a rival club on the table. It is this that has emboldened him to demand a non-negotiable pay rise at Arsenal to about £250,000 a week.
...but it’s also the futures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, and Kieran Gibbs that have still to be decided. In short, in many ways, the entire 2017/18 Arsenal team - front office, playing squad, youth/academy setup may look markedly different than it does today.