Should Arsenal get rid of Wenger?

Arsenal’s relatively promising start to 2013 in the Premier League appears to have papered over the cracks. In a week that has seen the Gunners exit the FA Cup and more than likely the Champions League, the pressure on Arsene Wenger to end his 17 year old reign in North London is stronger than ever.

Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening almost confirms that the Gunners’ will finish their 8th consecutive season without any silverware.

Their best chance of adding to the Emirates Stadium trophy cabinet ended with Saturday’s FA Cup 5th round home loss to Championship side Blackburn Rovers. The Gunners peppered the Blackburn goal throughout the 90 minutes and registered 26 attempts at goal however were unable to make a breakthrough.

Saturday’s defeat was the second occasion this season that Arsenal have exited a domestic cup competition to lower league opposition after earlier suffering a penalty shoot-out loss to League Two side Bradford City in the quarter finals of the League Cup.

Arsene Wenger’s has always responded to his critics by re-iterating Arsenal’s Champions League qualification record under his stewardship – The Gunners have qualified for 15 consecutive tournaments.

Yet Wenger might not have this record to fall back on this time round. Arsenal currently lie outside of the Champions League qualification spots, 4 points behind bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur who are in 4th place and 5 points behind Chelsea in 3rd.

With just 12 Premier League games remaining, Arsenal face a tough task to overtake either Chelsea or Spurs before the end of the season. They have a moderately easy fixture list but face away ties at White Hart Lane and St.James’ Park as well as a home game against Champions elect Manchester United.

Wenger was highly lauded for his modern, scientific approach to the game after he arrived at Highbury in 1996. Many pundits and professionals claimed that his managerial style was ‘ahead of the times’ yet now, 17 years later, many are claiming that time has caught up with him.

His tenure at Arsenal peaked in 2004 when he led his “Invincibles” side to the Premier League title without losing a game. Just 2 years later, Wenger led Arsenal to the Champions League Final in Paris where they took the lead only to be beaten 2-1 by Barcelona. At this time, Frenchmen Thierry Henry and Robert Pires were spearheading some of the most attractive passing football played on English soil in years.

However, since their departure, Wenger has often been accused of failing to replace these types of players with the necessary experience required and that he has instead relied too heavily on youth.

In recent seasons, Arsenal have become a selling club, unable to resist large transfer fees for several catalysts within their ranks including Cesc Faregas, Matthieu Flamini, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin Van Persie. Whether or not this is the fault of Arsene Wenger or the Arsenal hierarchy, Wenger’s attempts to replace these departures has at times been questionable with the likes of Andre Santos, Andrei Arshavin and Laurent Koscielny all unable to make the grade.

It cannot be argued that Arsene Wenger has done a lot for Arsenal, with the building of the Emirates Stadium and the new training complex, as well as the success he brought to North London up until 2006, where Arsenal could be fairly deemed as a dominant force in English footall and one of the finest sides in Europe.

However, for a club the size of Arsenal not to have won any trophy for 8 years, perhaps now Wenger’s time is up. Arsenal shouldn’t cling onto their manager just for sentiment’s sake. They need to look towards the future and for an alternative means to challenge their oil-driven rivals in Manchester City and Chelsea.

10 years ago Wenger was Arsenal’s future, but for now the Gunners are living in the past.