ARSENE WENGER celebrated winning his 16th piece of silverware last Saturday after Arsenal defeated Premier League champions Chelsea to lift the FA Cup.
The result was an important one for the French manager, whose future remains up in the air.
Fans have been divided on whether or not he should stay, and it is unclear if the cup victory will spur him on for another season or act as the last act in a long and storied era.
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Here, Football Whispers give five reasons for and against Wenger staying at Arsenal…
For: He’s found a new system
One of the major criticisms of Wenger over more recent years has been his unwillingness to change tactics. For years he persisted with a rough 4-2-3-1 shape to little avail, however he recently brought in a new-look 3-4-3 system.
The new formation led to an improvement in results, with several players looking revitalised. And, having shown an adaptability many previously felt wasn’t there, Wenger deserves a chance to build a new team with the 3-4-3.
Against: His tactics are outdated
Despite the change in basic shape from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-3, Wenger simply isn’t as progressive as he used to be from a tactical standpoint. When he arrived at Arsenal, his shift from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 and a fast-paced, passing style were revolutionary. However, today he finds himself struggling to keep up with the latest trends.
Antonio Conte’s usage of the 3-4-3 had already worked wonders for Chelsea, so Wenger’s adoption of the system was hardly against the grain. And it’s also concerning that it took him so long to find a different way of setting up.
For: The players respect him
While the support of those in the stands has wavered, Wenger has rarely lacked the backing of his players. This was perhaps shown most emphatically by Arsenal’s performance in last weekend’s FA Cup final.
In a game many saw the Gunners suffering a terrible defeat in, they came out roaring to dominate Chelsea for large spells and seal a deserved victory. If there were any malicious rumours over Wenger’s command of the dressing room, this match put a stop to them.
Against: Poor transfers
During the early years of his Arsenal reign, Wenger made a habit of picking up talent for astounding value. His signatures of Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry were particularly instrumental, as he turned two young out-of-favour players into superstars at the forefront of an exciting, successful team.
However, in recent seasons the manager’s transfer policy has waned. The arrival of Lucas Perez this term was the latest costly mistake, with the 28-year-old starting just nine times after joining from Deportivo La Coruna for around £17million.
For: Change doesn’t always work out
Manchester United fans can testify to the potential negative impact felt by the departure of a long-serving manager.
In the four years since Sir Alex Ferguson moved on, the club have failed to mount a single title challenge and have finished in the top four just once.
Indeed, had they not won the Europa League this season, they would have missed out on the Champions League for a third time in four years.
Arsenal may not be competing with the very best at home or abroad under Wenger, but they would be wise to think twice before getting rid of a manager who led them to three Premier League titles.
Against: Arsenal have been overtaken by Tottenham
For many years, the one thing Wenger could always claim is that his Arsenal side were at least better than Tottenham. The Gunners had finished above their North London rivals every year since 1995, but that all changed this season.
Spurs won 2-0 in the derby last month to ensure they finished above their local enemies. The result and subsequent league positions are as clear a sign as any that, under Wenger, Tottenham are set to overtake Arsenal.
For: There’s a lack of quality successors
In the recent past, Arsenal have missed out on a number of quality potential successors to Wenger in Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, who all ended up at other Premier League sides. However, there doesn’t seem to be quite so much choice this summer.
Diego Simeone has confirmed he will stay on at Atletico Madrid, and Juventus’ Massimiliano Allegri has done the same. With Jorge Sampaoli leaving Sevilla for the Argentine national team, the list of Wenger replacements is currently lacking several top names.
Against: Same outcome every season
Generally speaking, Arsenal’s seasons tend to end the same way. They fail to challenge for the Premier League title but finish inside the top four.
They also progress beyond the Champions League group stages before being knocked out in the second round.
Prior to 2016/17, the above had been the case for six successive years. And, damningly, the only change this time around was that Wenger’s side finished outside of the top four.
For: Upturn provides hope
Following Wenger’s switch to a back three and a 3-4-3 shape, Arsenal enjoyed an impressive resurgence.
They won nine of their final ten games in 2016/17, with the only defeat coming away to an exceptional Tottenham side.
The tactical change, combined with the improved results since, may offer some fans hope for the future. And, more significantly, it may offer Wenger reason to stay on.
Against: Sullied legacy
Despite the recent upturn in form, the fact remains that Arsenal simply were not good enough this season. And while they won the FA Cup, they were deeply underwhelming in the two competitions that really matter.
Their fifth-place Premier League finish was the worst under Wenger’s management and means they will miss out on the Champions League, where they were embarrassed by Bayern Munich at the second round stage this term. The decline in results is only sullying Wenger’s legacy at the club.