It wasn’t quite the result that Arsenal were looking for, but walking away from Manchester City with a point is still better than being empty handed. Prior to the match, some considered it a must-win situation for the long-time skipper as the team has won only one of its last six matches. A loss to City would have seen the calls for Arsène Wenger’s resignation reach fever pitch. While he shouldn’t start packing his bags just yet, it’s unlikely that a draw will keep fans quiet for too long.
The patience of both supporters and ownership seems to have been wearing thin of late, as no shortage of Gunner faithful have called for the club to sack the longtime manager. Arsenal currently sit in sixth place and are in danger of missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in more than 20 years. Ironically, Arsenal’s last finish outside the top four was during the 1995-96 season when they were led by manager Bruce Rioch. He was replaced by Wenger the following year and the Gunners haven’t missed out on qualifying for European competition since.
It’s hard to understate the importance of Wenger to Arsenal. He’s easily the most successful manager in the club’s history with three Premier League titles, six FA cups, and another six Community Shields during his more than two-decade tenure. The last time Arsenal won the Premier League was the legendary Invincibles squad that went undefeated during the 2003-04 campaign. Since then, the Gunners have consistently finished within the top four, but have yet to find joy again as champions. When that is coupled with the squad’s relative inability to produce in the Champion League, the result is that some supporters have become frustrated with the status quo—and Wenger’s style of play. This particularly stands out when contrasted against the big-spending, star-studded squads of Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City.
To be entirely fair to Wenger, the lack of expensive stars is hardly his fault. For a manager of his talent (and consistency), the ownership has never given him a budget anywhere close to those of his peers, and he has still managed to do more with less. Of all people, former Arsenal and current Man City fullback Gaël Clichy came to Wenger’s defense, saying that fans should “be careful what they wish for” in regards to the calls for the man’s job. Most clubs would give their eye teeth for a shot at the Champions League, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing much better in Wenger’s position.
Despite the relative drought in term’s of actually nabbing the Premier League trophy, Arsenal are consistently among the top teams in contention. One need only look at the odds available at featured online markets to see for themselves just how fair the Gunners’ chances are of winning any given match. Arsenal nearly clinched the title last year only to be stymied by the utterly incomprehensible run of Leicester City on its own date with destiny.
It seems as though it’s only a matter of time until Wenger is finally able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s hard to imagine anyone outperforming the man with what he’s had to work with, and Wenger has stood by the club through thick and thin. If fans want to protest for something, it should be for the ownership to loosen the purse strings so Arsenal can get the high-profile talent it deserves.