Later today, Arsenal will take on Leicester City at the Emirates stadium in a game that would have a huge bearing on who will eventually win the League. Whilst it cannot be tagged the decider considering the number of games left to be played, the outcome of the game will give a clearer indication on where the title might end up at the end of the season.
Of the two sides, Arsenal is the team that would be desperate to avoid a defeat. A victory for Leicester City will see them open an eight-points gap between themselves and the North London club, thereby, potentially ending their title dream – again.
The word ‘again’ is used because it would be yet another season of disappointment and ‘what ifs’ for the fans of Arsenal. For many years now, they have endured similar heartbreaks but this year would definitely be bigger and much more painful for obvious reasons.
In a season that Chelsea is fighting for survival, Manchester United continues to increase their efforts towards not playing in Europe and Nigeria’s PHCN have been more consistent than Manchester City, Arsenal should be running away with the League. They (Arsenal) not only have the most experienced manager in the League but also, players who can make things happen.
The excruciating pain for not winning it will be compounded by the fact that Arsenal might NEVER have such an opportunity again. Next season will see Pep Guardiola, a proven winner, move to Manchester City, Jose Mourinho might join Manchester United, Chelsea will definitely bounce back stronger and Jurgen Klopp will have gathered enough experience to give others a fierce contest.
A defeat at the Emirates will definitely be fatal for Arsenal but even more fatal for the manager of the club, Arsene Wenger. As a matter of fact, it could be the final straw for the manager who has gone from being adored to being endured by a good number of fans over his philosophy and approach to managing for a decade.
Without a doubt, Arsene Wenger remains the club’s greatest manager given his remarkable achievements but since he last won the League in 2004, he has offered nothing but excuses.
To be fair on him, his excuses are valid. The club went through a financial transformation and that restricted his chance to compete at the very top as he had little money to spend on players unlike his opponents. But despite all of that, he managed to keep the side competitive with an admirable youth policy.
His problem, however, is that a lot of managers are beginning to make light his excuses with their achievements. The obvious example will, of course, have to be the manager he would be facing later today, Claudio Ranieri. He is on the verge of winning the English Premier League with a squad that is cheaper than Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil.
More so, what Jurgen Klopp did with Borrusia Dortmund is another great example. He not only broke the monopoly of Bayern Munich by winning the Bundesliga consecutively, he also took them to the final of the biggest competition in Europe, the UEFA Champions League. Under his watch, Borrusia Dortmund went from another club in Germany to a respected force in mainstream Europe without him necessarily throwing money about.
In the same vein Atletico Madrid is witnessing that under Diego Simeone. Two years ago, he won the La Liga right under the nose of European giants – Real Madrid and Barcelona. More so, he could have won the Champions League but for Sergio Ramos’ late header.
All of these are clear indications of two things. First off, the emphasis on spending is overrated. Financial worth is not the measure of quality (Please, recall that Mangala cost Manchester City a staggering £42Million) and with the right motivation, there is no limit to what a team can achieve.
Secondly, it indicates that regardless of how valid Wenger’s excuses may seem over the years, they still remain what they are – excuses. And if today, Leicester City manage to grind out a win and consequentially dent Arsenal’s title charge, those excuses will no longer be tolerated.
The Wenger Out Brigade recruit more members faster than how Eriteria gained new male entrants when the false news of Government compulsion to marry two wives made the rounds and they have shown flashes of what they are capable of doing. A defeat to Leicester will not only exponentially increase the members of the Brigade, it might also be the beginning of a revolt that would be hard to ignore.
Arsene Wenger will have no hiding place and it just might be the beginning of his end at Arsenal.
Adeshina Peter, @Shina_Pitta on Twitter.