Last night was one of the worst days in Arsenal Football Club’s recent history. Thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich for the second time in three weeks, they have been humiliated 10-2 on aggregate against the German side in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Where does Wenger go from here? How can the players dust themselves off and go again to face Lincoln for a crucial FA Cup quarter final on Saturday?
With the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool fresh in the memory of the fans from the weekend, some took to the streets outside the Emirates stadium, calling for Wenger to go. Although no one gave Arsenal a chance of winning by a 4 (possibly 5) goal margin last night, they at least expected the side to play with a bit of heart and possibly win the second leg, even if qualification was out of the question.
From the moment influential centre half Laurent Koscielny saw red for a challenge which led to a Bayern penalty, the Gunners capitulated. Showing signs of a team who are extremely low on confidence and belief, Bayern hammered them, with Arturo Vidal and Robert Lewandowski causing problems for the whole 90 minutes. How the Arsenal fans wish they had a couple of players such as those who were playing for the German side last night. There was no leadership, no passion, no organisation and no chance of putting up any sort of fight.
I don’t know where Wenger goes from here. He looked defeated last night – weary and blurry eyed; almost stunned as to what he was seeing in front of him, powerless to do anything. There is no way back for him, especially when you see the reaction from some of the Arsenal players during and after the game; Alexis Sanchez barely containing his laughter at Bayern added another, Cech laughing and joking with fellow ‘keeper Manuel Neuer at full time in the middle of the pitch. There’s a time and a place for that sort of behaviour, and that wasn’t it. It shows a staggering lack of respect for the club and fans.
So, what now? Well, with the club’s top 4 status under serious threat this season, that will be the priority for the club. Wenger has a fantastic record when it comes to guiding the club into the Champions League and regardless as to whether he is there or not next season, he will want to maintain that record of qualification. Failure to finish in one of those top four league places will be catastrophic for the club moving forward.
There’s also the FA Cup as well, but what should’ve been a relatively straight forward match against non-league Lincoln on Saturday now looks a potential banana skin, given everything that the club is currently going through. Would an FA Cup win and a top 4 finish be enough to convince Wenger to sign the new 2 year contract which is waiting for him to sign?