Was fan protest enough to persuade Wenger to quit Arsenal?

It is hardly surprising that there was a protest by the Arsenal fans planned before the Gunners took on Bayern Munich in the Champions League last night, especially as the 5-1 drubbing by the Germans a few weeks ago was the sort of performance that has convinced many of us that it is time for the Frenchman to end his long spell in charge and give another manager the chance to get Arsenal back to the trophy winning times we all want to see.

The protest did go ahead but Sky Sports are reporting that there were only about 200 fans involved. That and the fact that it was outside the ground and before the game kicked off may mean that Wenger is either not that aware or not that bothered by it. He could understandably see it as a small minority of the Arsenal fan base after all.

Arsenal.com did report comments from the right back Hector Bellerin about the noticeable departure of large swathes of the home crowd from the Emirates last night, with the Spaniard suggesting that this did hurt the team and that they need to get the fans back on side.

Once again, though, this could be seen as mere disappointment on the night that the comeback faltered and fell flat after the penalty and Koscielny’s red card, so do the Arsenal fans need to do more to persuade Arsene Wenger to quit?

Does Bayern beating show Arsenal’s key man is Koscielny NOT Alexis?

Fans of Arsenal or any football club for that matter will usually come down on the side of the manager, as they are the main representative of the club, when a player is showing petulance on the pitch or if there are suggestions that they are causing problems in the dressing room.

The fact that we Gooners seem to be fairly split over the Arsene Wenger and Alexis Sanchez shows just how important a player we think the Chilean, while some of it is also down to the frustration over our fortunes for the last decade and the feeling among many that Wenger’s time is up.

Sanchez is clearly one of the best players in the Arsenal squad right now and even though his goals and assists do not tell the whole story of his impact they are impressive and without them the Gunners would be in even deeper trouble.

But he could not do much to stop us getting our asses handed to us twice in a row by a rampant Bayern Munich team. Actually it is three times in a row because they also beat us by the same 5-1 scoreline in the group stages last season, which was another game that Alexis started.

The common denominator in those three hammerings was the absence of Laurent Koscielny, who was not available for the game last season, was sent off very harshly last night and picked up a knock in Munich a few weeks ago. So in the last three clashes with Bayern without Koscielny the aggregate score is 14-1 but with him on the pitch it is 2-1 to us.

Does this show that it is the Frenchman who is the most important Arsenal player and not the Chilean?

Wenger wants ‘total commitment’ from Arsenal so why bench Alexis?

After Arsene Wenger left Alexis Sanchez on the Arsenal bench for the first half of our Premier League defeat to Liverpool it was always going to be a big talking point and in some ways I can see why the manager felt that he had to show some authority after a reported training ground incident surrounding the Chilean striker.

Despite denying the row, Wenger has hinted at the reasons behind it being that the recent shows of frustration on the pitch from Alexis have come about through his wish for the rest of the Arsenal team to get stuck in and make the same effort as he does on a regular basis.

The boss said, “Excessive commitment is maybe sometimes when he shows [Wenger threw his arms up in the air to demonstrate] on the pitch. It’s always interpreted that he’s not happy but it could be interpreted that he wants everyone to be with him. When it doesn’t go well these things are interpreted negatively.”

These comments came almost in the same breath as he demanded effort from the whole Arsenal team for the return leg against Bayern Munich, even if it does seem to be a lost cause.

He said, “Total commitment – but not a silly one because you always have to make intelligent decisions. For that you need a good combination of commitment and to keep your vision as well.”

So total commitment but not excessive right? I tell you what Arsene, without Alexis on the pitch you are not going to get anything like the commitment that Arsenal need.

How will Arsenal line-up for Bayern with Ozil out?

The big team news for Arsenal as we prepare for the return leg of our Champions League tie with the German champions Bayern Munich is that Mesut Ozil will not be lining up to face his international teammates like Thomas Muller and Phillip Lahm, because Arsene Wenger has confirmed on the Arsenal website that our playmaker will not have recovered from his bout of illness in time.

The boss said, “He is not in the squad, he only had one session yesterday and he was sick – he was out the whole of last week and I don’t think he is ready physically to be in the squad. He should be okay for the weekend.”

So now the question is what Arsenal will do without him and we can only hope it is better than we did without him in the team for the Premier League away game at Liverpool. In that match it was young Alex Iwobi who filled the German’s place and it did not really work, although it was difficult for him with Liverpool dominating the game.

He could be given another chance at number 10 tomorrow with the other obvious option being Oxlade-Chamberlain who I would prefer to see there. I am assuming that the leaving of Alexis Sanchez on the Arsenal bench by Arsene Wenger will not continue tomorrow, especially if our manager is serious about not giving up the tie altogether.

Whether he starts in the middle or not is another matter and I would not be surprised to see Giroud or Welbeck there and I think the pace of the latter may just swing it for him to start ahead of the big Frenchman. I expect Walcott on the right to complete the attack and also for Wenger to stick with Coquelin but I reckon he might replace Xhaka with Ramsey in the middle.

Whatver team he picks this game is going to be tough, so how would you like to see Arsenal line-up?

Arsenal can spring DOUBLE surprise on Bayern Munich

Recent history suggests that Arsenal are not going to get through to the next round of the Champions League. For one thing it has been seven long years since the Gunners got past Porto so despite qualifying every year and then always getting out of the group, that has been as far as it goes.

We also have a poor recent record against our opponents Bayern Munich, whether it has been at this same stage or when both clubs have been in the same qualifying group. But with the German champions not being at their best and Arsenal having finally won our own group this season, we do have more reason for optimism than usual.

I also think that Arsene Wenger could increase our chances by springing a couple of surprised on Bayern tonight. As reported by the Daily Mail, they seem to be expecting the Gunners to turn up at the Allianz Arena and play our usual attacking style of football, regardless of the situation. Also we have Sky Sports reporting that their centre back Mats Hummels has dismissed the idea going around that Arsenal might start without the below par Mesut Ozil in Germany.

Combine these two and you can see that Arsenal could spring a double surprise by dropping Ozil, who they will surely have a plan to deal with, and bolstering the midfield and making ourselves compact and solid. Could Wenger outfox Ancelotti this evening I wonder?

Wenger’s passion inspiring Arsenal to Bayern Munich result?

Anything but a big defeat for Arsenal tonight at the Allianz Arena would keep the hopes of a Champions League quarter-final alive, but in reality the Gunners will be hoping to come away from Germany with nothing worse than a draw against the Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Easier said than done, of course, even though Bayern have lost their midfield general Xabi Alonso to an injury. We have come up against the Germans a fair few times in recent years and despite a couple of good results we have never got the best of them in terms of winning a group or knocking them out. Some punters think they have more chance of winning a casino jackpot than beating the German giants!

Having said that I think that this current version of Bayern is more vulnerable, as long as the Gunners are on the ball of course. But with Arsene Wenger possibly coming to the end of his time as manager, he has extra reason to want to do well this season and you can tell that from his pre-match comments reported in the Daily Mail, especially after he was reminded about our record against our opponents.

Wenger said, ‘Thank you for reminding me of our bad history [in this competition].

‘But let’s focus on the future. Listening to you, it’s clear that we are not favourites. But let’s watch the performance.’

Sounds to me like the boss is fired up for this, and if that is the case then the players should be too. We should also remember that it was Arsenal and not Bayern that won their group this season. A look at their recent results should offer us hope as well because the games they have won have been close and they were held to a draw at home by Schalke the weekend before last.

Can Wenger’s passion inspire Arsenal to the right result in Munich tonight?

Wenger cursing luck after Arsenal get Bayern Munich AGAIN

Well there you have the perfect example of Arsenal’s luck, after we drew the German giants Bundesliga for the next round of the Champions League despite having finally finished on top of our qualifying group for the first time since 2011.

Arsene Wenger will surely be cursing his poor fortune, although I suppose it could have been worse as the one team that the Frenchman really did not want to draw was Real Madrid and that was also a possibility. Maybe the fact the PSG who came second in our group after that surprise draw in the final group game were drawn with the other Spanish giants Barcelona.

Thierry Henry’s reaction on Sky Sports was pretty down to earth as well and any Arsenal fans too worried about this draw should take note of our former striker’s comments.

He said, “If you want to win it you have to play against one of those [big] teams. I had a feeling they’d play Real or Bayern because it seems like that’s the way it is.

“I remember the year we drew Real Madrid on the way to the final and people said it was over for Arsenal.

“You’re going to have to play against Bayern, Barcelona or Real Madrid. So why not now?”

It’s a good point and we should also remeber that Bayern are not their usual dominant selves this season, in Europe or in the Bundesliga, so with the Gunners having the benefit of playing the second leg at home, could we still get to the latter stages?

Wenger admits Arsenal need PSG win to regain momentum

While Arsenal are not exactly in a bad place right now, as we sit just three points off the top of the Premier League and are already guaranteed a place in the next round of the Champions League, you could argue that we have not really pushed on as we would have hoped after comfortably beating our bogey team Chelsea.

The two big matches since then have been against Tottenham and Manchester United and we have not won either of them when we really should have going by form. So while the Champions League clash with PSG at the Emirates this evening is only important as it will probably decide whether we finish first or second in the group, Arsene Wenger has admitted that one of the main reasons he wants to win is to get back the momentum that we have lost of late.

The Frenchman said, “It would be important for us to win the group. We can win a big game at home and that’s important for us. But the rest, November, December or June – we win football games and we perform. It’s as simple as that.

“When you go on the pitch you don’t look at the calendar and look at what month are we in. You just try to focus on the quality of your game and we have created a momentum, even if we are stuttering a little bit at the moment because we did not win some games. We want just to strengthen that momentum again with wins.

“We want to show that we can beat any style of team. That’s what we have done since the start of the season. We play a team with a different style, a team who play possession, slow and quick.

“We have to show that we can cope with that because they play a lot of possession and then suddenly they play quick with Cavani, Lucas Moura – they can accelerate a game. We have to show we can deal with that style, a different style to what we are used to. In England, we always play with power.”

With Wenger very keen to get another big match win he is likely to field the strongest Arsenal side possible, so are we finally going to finish on top of a Champions League group?

Arsenal to start Giroud at Ludogorets but who else?

It is not a 100 percent accurate way of telling which Arsenal players will be in the starting line-up, but almost every time Arsene Wenger chooses one of the Gunners to do a press conference with him then that player will be in the team.

Yesterday the Arsenal boss spoke to the football media as Arsenal prepare for the Champions League away tie with Ludogorets and it was the two goal hero from Saturday’s win at Sunderland, Olivier Giroud, who fielded questions alongside Wenger, as the match preview in The Mirror shows.

This is hardly surprising with the big French forward back and raring to go after a spell out of the side with injury, but with the manager also stating hi9s determination to finish on top of our Champions League group for the first time in seven years, it will be interesting to see how many other changes he makes and whether he rests some of the big players for the north London derby clash with Tottenham at the weekend.

Wenger said, “Finishing first is our prime target. Step by step: qualify first. We have played Paris Saint-Germain away, and play them at home to come.

“We have a good opportunity to finish top. It is an advantage because you play the second game in the last 16 at home, so you know exactly what you have to achieve at home.

“You have the support. If it goes to extra-time or penalties, you play at home. So it’s a little advantage.

“But if you can finish first, why finish second? We have paid the price many times when we’ve finished second, having to play Barcelona or Bayern Munich. So we think it’s important.”

The prof has learnt the hard way over the last six seasons what finishing second can mean so it sounds like he is determined not to do so this year. However we already have to do without Monreal, Walcott, Cazorla and Bellerin, so I think he cannot afford to rest any more first choice Gunners, making my line-up look like this.

Ospina
Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs
Xhaka, Ramsey
Chamberlain, Ozil, Alexis
Giroud

Is this how you want Arsenal to line up tonight?

Are Arsenal now ready to win the Champions League?

Will It Finally Be Arsenal’s Year In Europe Or Will The Good Start In The Champions League End?

Say what you like about Arsene Wenger, and people frequently do, but the man has consistently got Arsenal into the Champions League competition every year since 1998. Consistent performances in the Premier League have seen them finish in the top 4 year on year earning them the right to compete with the most elite clubs in Europe. Despite 19 appearances in the competition the Gunners have only made the final once and never won. Wenger, who is currently in the last year of his contract, may sense the clock is ticking and believe this is his last chance to finally win the major title that has eluded him.
Here we take a look at Arsenal’s football odds over this seasons Champions League campaign.

Recent History In The Competition

Wenger has consistently guided his team out of the group stage since the 2002-03 season but has struggled to get much further since 2009-10. Over the past six seasons they have finished in second place of the group state on five occasions, which means they have drawn 1st place teams who are (in theory harder to beat) and crashed out at the last 16 stage.  In the last four years Arsenal have drawn a German team in the group who have proven to be their kryptonite, last year they finished second to Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund over the two previous seasons and Schalke 04 in 2012-13 season.

To give themselves the best chance in the last 16 this season, Arsenal need to break their recent 2nd place duck and ensure they top Group A this season. Fortunately there are no German teams in the Gunners group, as Paris Saint-Germain poses the biggest threat.

Early Results

Apart from an opening day hiccup against Liverpool, Arsenal have been very impressive in the Premier League and have carried that form over the Champions League. Their first fixture away to PSG was always going to be the toughest fixture of the group stage, so Wenger will be very pleased to have gotten it out of the way, finishing with a very respectable 1-1 draw.  Arsenal followed this up with a 2-0 home win against Basel which leaves them at joint top of the group. The four remaining games should all be winnable for the Gunners, providing they are suitably prepared to host PSG in the return fixture.

New Signings

Football fans (including Gunner fans) have criticised Wenger for being frugal with his spending but this year (in what could be his final season) he has silenced the critics by spending an estimated combined £84 million on four new players, many of which were desperately needed. Shkodran Mustafi is the kind of defender that Wenger has needed for some time and he has slotted himself into Arsenal’s back 4 with ease. While Lucas Pérez was bought to be Arsenal’s new leading striker, instead that position has been filled by Alexis Sanchez, previously a winger in recent season, but Sanchez seems very comfortable as a striker and seems like a brand new player.

Could this finally be Arsene Wenger’s year to go all the way in Europe?