A large number of fans want to see Frenchman leave the Emirates this summer as Gunners go in search of big win
ARSENE WENGER says there is LESS pressure on him now than three years ago.
The Arsenal boss is at the centre of a civil war among fans over his Emirates future.
Supporters have even come to blows in the stands over the issue of his 21-year reign continuing.
Another set of disastrous results over the next eight days — starting tomorrow in their FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City — will see the situation deteriorate beyond anything Wenger has ever experienced.
But as he prepares to face City and then Leicester before arch-rivals Spurs tomorrow week, the Frenchman appears unfazed.
Incredibly, he even claims the stakes were higher in the FA Cup three years ago.
In 2014, with Wenger desperately looking for his first trophy in nine years, Arsenal squeezed past Wigan on penalties in the semis before beating Hull 3-2 in extra-time in the final.
The Gunners retained the Cup 12 months later with a 4-0 thumping of Aston Villa.
But it is their continued disappointments in the Premier League — along with their traditional loss in the Champions League last-16 — which has seen Wenger’s tenure turn toxic.
He said: “It was difficult for us in 2014, there was a special pressure. This time, there is a special opportunity for us.
“We had not won a trophy for a long time. People wanted us to win or questioned us about winning a trophy. So, overall, the pressure was big.
“I’ve always thought the Cup is something special. I have won the cup in every country I have worked.
“The FA Cup is one of the major trophies and that is why I have prepared properly for it every time.”
It is all very well saying the clash against City is a “special opportunity” but Wenger knows the spotlight remains firmly on him and his decision to stay at the club for another two years.
While his side have every chance to cause problems against City’s inconsistent defence and either of their dodgy keepers, you worry about Arsenal at the back.
Wenger may not be feeling any pressure today but a heavy loss against City and that will change.
Victory over Pep Guardiola at Wembley could see the Frenchman take a major step towards becoming the first manager to win the Cup seven times.
George Ramsay of Aston Villa won the famous old trophy six times too, with his last victory coming in 1920.
Ramsay — who was Villa boss for 42 YEARS — won his fifth FA Cup in 1913, the year Arsenal moved away from Plumstead and across the river to Highbury.
Wenger added: “I’m very proud of that because you have many strong managers in England for many periods. The guy who won it six times was not today, it was early century. It’s not easy. Every competition brings a psychological atmosphere.”
Arsenal are sixth, seven points off City in fourth place.
After a terrible run of just two wins in eight Premier League matches, the Gunners scrambled past Middlesbrough 2-1 on Monday night.
It was not exactly exhilarating but they got away with it.
Wenger is unlikely to stick with the back-three formation he employed against the Prem’s lowest scorers.
The 67-year-old said: “When you have negative results like we had, it can divide or unite. At some stage you have to show you can fight together.
“The best way to win is to show you can fight again. People questioned our fighting spirit, rightly so, when we came out of the defeat to Crystal Palace. The fact they did fight at Middlesbrough and did win had a positive impact.
“We still have to go for the top four and give everything on Sunday. At the end of the season, we will be judged on that.”