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After 21 years of loyal service, could these be the final weeks of Wenger’s long-running reign in North London? Comments made by chief executive Ivan Gazidis at the weekend would certainly suggest so, though Arsenal tend to operate differently to every other club in the division.

On the back of his worst set of results in two long decades at the helm, Wenger has attempted to bat away the constant questions regarding his future by insisting that an official announcement will be made “soon”.

That was the stance taken following the 3-1 loss to West Bromwich Albion a fortnight ago – arguably the nadir in this season that has shown little signs of improvement – and the Frenchman again held firm when questioned in the wake of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

The character shown against the Citizens did at least offer a response to some of Wenger’s critics, with Arsenal twice battling from behind to earn a point against one of their top-four rivals, yet it says an awful lot about their current footing that simply not losing is seen as a big positive.

Rather than closing the gap on fourth-place City they still remain seven points adrift, with a game in hand to play, while Manchester United in fifth are two points better off heading into the final run-in.

The one constant that Wenger has had to fall back on in recent years, finishing in the top four and therefore securing Champions League football, is no longer a given, meaning that winning the FA Cup for a third time in four years is now his only real hope of appeasing disgruntled supporters.

Fights broke out around the Emirates Stadium during the draw with City at the weekend, with Wenger himself admitting that the angst from the stands was being felt by his players on the field, having seen his side win just three of their last 10 games in all competitions – two of those coming against non-league opposition in the FA Cup.

While the players wait for an announcement on their manager’s future, and the uncertainty stretches from days to weeks to months, all they can do is attempt to get their campaign back on track and potentially close the gap on the teams immediately above them.

For the first time since 1995 local rivals Tottenham Hotspur will almost certainly finish as top dogs in North London, baring the most incredible of collapses, but it is the failure to secure top European football that may well prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Wenger. Defeat to the Hammers on Wednesday and the Wenger Out brigade may well get their wish.

 

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