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Arsenal: The beginning of the end of an era?
- Updated: March 16, 2017
For the first time in 18 years, the 2016/17 season could see Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League
London, England – The “top 4” debate goes on every year but this time around the argument seems to hold more water than ever before. The fear of missing out on a Champions League place has deprived fans of sleep as of late. Even finishing in fourth place will not be enough to secure Champions League qualification if Leicester pull off another miracle in winning Champions League and Manchester United lift the Europa League trophy.
The annual spotlight that is always pointed at Arsene Wenger shines more heat this year after being on the receiving end of another Champions League Knock-out stage drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich.
Having to explain the antics of star player Alexis Sanchez after he was dropped before their 3-1 loss to Liverpool wouldn’t have helped matters either.
As a result the fans are as split as much as they ever were, the constant battle between his legacy versus his recent record. This enigma of Arsenal in the 21st century brings a whole new meaning to dividing a Red Sea.
However one more crucial factor the Gunners will have to consider is how much longer Sanchez will be a Arsenal player. Recent speculation suggests his days in North London are numbered, with rumours clubs like European stalwarts Juventus and French dominators PSG are sniffing around the Chilean.
It may be a fair judgement to suggest Arsenal would struggle without him – a lot. Take away the 17 goals the 28 year-old scored, the team would be 7 points worse off, lingering down in 7th place, and Wenger would almost certainly have been dismissed.
The recent reports that Sanchez had more than heated exchanges between teammates earlier this month has got to strike major concern within Wenger and the Arsenal faithful.
However, if we go by what the Arsenal fans are demanding, which at the very least is challenging for the title then they will have to find a better striker than Olivier Giroud.
Any team competing for the title needs a forward that they can guarantee will score 20 plus goals in a season. The Frenchman hasn’t offered that yet since his arrival in 2013, his highest tally being 16 last year.
It is imperative Arsenal finish inside the top 4 this season. If not, they are in danger of not only losing their star player but even more worryingly, failing to find a replacement.
The long chain of quintessential natural-goalscorers the club has brought in, such as Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright just to name a few, will finally end if Wenger’s men do not unravel another gem. The absence of Champions League football will impede this from happening.
Wenger must somehow bring confidence and motivation back into his clubs squad and fans, if they are to finish inside the top 4 again.
Will Arsenal make the top 4? Will Wenger continue with the club? Is Sanchez going to make an Emirates exit? We’ll all find out come what May. Hold tight, this is what squeaky-bum time really is.