Premier League: Arsene, Arsene! Wenger must stay on at Arsenal
He has to remain as boss, not for their good, but for those of us who love the football roller coaster
Dubai: In this wave of public pressure from the Emirates stands and from the media outside the ground, poor Arsene Wenger has looked every one of his 68 years.
Can you call it a wave when it has been going on so long?
Calamitous result had followed calamitous result for Arsenal and he looked — again, for the what seems like the 19th time — to be heading out the door.
It was an all-to-familiar picture.
The doomsayers were predicting he would not even see out season after a dreadful campaign left them with only a ‘must-win’ in the Europa League against a revitalised AC Milan to hold on to.
No chance. Ring Gattuso had those boys firing on all cylinders like the Milan of old after some mediocre years of their own. Right?
Wenger was slated for — sacre bleu — failing to get them into the Champions League for the first time since 1998 (all under his guidance) and the Europa was nothing but a ’Mickey Mouse’ tournament.
Nonetheless, his battered boys turned up at San Siro and, in Wenger’s own words, responded “like a boxer” to floor Milan 2-0 and take the upper hand in the two-legged tie.
Cue the Rocky music, because this could be pure popcorn stuff.
The scares were still there and the match could have been a defeat for the Londoners had Milan taken their chances in the second half.
Would Wenger have been sacked by the Arsenal board if that were the outcome? These guys? I doubt it. Given what has gone before, It would take something much more apocalyptic to see the axe.
Fast forward to Sunday and the axe was sharpening again.
Without a win in the Premier League since the start of February, a notable number of empty seats greeted the boys in red for another ‘must-win’ (becoming familiar?) Watford match.
Arsenal went into the match an insurmountable 15 points behind fourth place. But another defeat would have been a tipping point for the board
However, in true Wenger-esque style, Arsenal slugged away like Balboa once again.
Goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Wenger’s side the 3-0 win.
It was not as clear-cut as that scoreline suggests.
An early uppercut, followed by dreadful defence and glove work (you again Petr Cech), a rally at the back (sorry Petr, great save, all is forgiven), roll with the punches and then finally a double whammy to end the bout.
Yo, Arsenal, I did it!
There were large periods of the game where Arsenal, while leading, still looked like they would end up with nothing, only to somehow fight back and hang on.
Arsenal fans must hate it but the rest of us love it. Win or lose, the roller-coaster thrill of an Arsenal match is unparalleled with Wenger at the helm.
The discontent and disgusting behaviour across London at West Ham at the weekend show you how nasty things can get. The Gunners fans have vented their frustrations at the board for many years now about Wenger and done it — just about — in the right manner.
I am always delighted that the coach always does just enough to cling on to his job.
There is a reason why he is the most successful manager in the FA Cup.
So, please let him stay. Not for the Arsenal faithful, just for us who enjoy the thrill of the ride and watch each match without knowing quite what will happen next.