Support for Arsene Wenger from the Arsenal fanbase appears to be waning after eighty-eight per cent of a prominent supporters group voted in favour of his contract being terminated at the end of the season.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust canvassed their 1,000 members ahead of their annual general meeting on Monday night, with those who responded overwhelmingly calling for the Frenchman’s 21-year tenure to come to a close.
The Gunners lost a fourth game in a row following a 2-1 defeat at Brighton on Sunday which leaves Wenger’s side 13 points off the top-four.
A large majority of travelling supporters at the AMEX Stadium chanted “we want Wenger out”, with the club 33 points adrift of runaway leaders City and closer to the foot of the Premier League table than the summit.
During the current run, Arsenal were outclassed by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final having already seen their FA Cup defence end with defeat at Nottingham Forest in the third round.
The only remaining hope for silverware, and a return to the Champions League, is to win the Europa League with Arsenal’s first leg of their round of 16 clash against AC Milan taking place in the San Siro on Thursday.
Arsene Wenger has today spoken with majority shareholder Stan Kroenke who has reiterated his full support for him to continue until the end of next season. Kroenke has urged the board to get behind the Arsenal manager for another season with a view to a possible renewal #AFC— David Ornstein (@aliladiere) March 6, 2018
Ahead of that game, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) held their annual general meeting.
And, following a run of eight defeats in 13 games, the majority of respondents to a members’ survey were clear what they wanted to see.
“In a survey conducted online & at tonight’s meeting 88 per cent of AST members vote for Arsenal ending Arsene Wenger’s contract when position reviewed this summer (seven per cent for staying on and five per cent don’t know yet),” a tweet from the AST Twitter account read.
Arsenal went through a similarly poor run of form at the same stage of last season, losing seven in 12 before chief executive Ivan Gazidis said those results would be a “catalyst for change”.
Wenger’s position was uncertain during that spell as his contract was due to expire but, despite Gazidis’ words and a number of matchday protests and marches, he penned a new two-year deal after guiding Arsenal to a third FA Cup in four years.
AST held a similar vote 12 months ago where 78 per cent of respondents called on no new contract to be offered to Wenger and, despite that recent FA Cup success, more of the trustees now want the 68-year-old removed from office.
Asked after a 3-0 Premier League reverse to Manchester City last Thursday, Wenger said: “I’m always ready for a fight. I’m of course very disappointed but I’ve experienced these situations before. I’ve faced difficult situations in my life and it helps to deal with that.”
Defeat to Milan over two legs could see the most difficult of situations presented to Wenger, who has also now conceded he had to be “realistic” of the importance the Europa League now holds.
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Nemanja Matic’s stoppage-time strike secured an unlikely three points that took them back up to second in the Premier League, ahead of Saturday’s showdown with rivals Liverpool.
They went two down shortly after half-time when Patrick van Aanholt’s finish doubled the advantage Andros Townsend had already given Palace, but Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku and then Matic broke the hosts’ hearts to leave them in 18th place.
“(It was) a remarkable comeback, but we made mistakes,” said Mourinho, 55. “A fantastic comeback, but mistakes. The attitude, the intensity, the quality, the dynamic, the risk were fantastic. We needed that little bit of luck to win in the last minute.
“But I’d say we deserved it because the dominance in that last half-hour was huge.”
The first goal is a bad goal”, he added. “In the second half we were all expecting a direct comeback, and then we concede a goal that is a good goal to show the kids in the academies in the country.
“Palace did very, very well. Roy (Hodgson, their manager) was aggressive. Roy was clever. He went direct and tried to bring the emotion to the game to his team, which he did, and they were always dangerous.
“It’s very hard for them to lose and go home without a single point, because they gave absolutely everything.”
Match-winner Matic hailed his teammates fightback but admitted United must do more if they are to challenge Manchester City for the title next season.
“I’m happy I’ve scored my first goal for Manchester United,” he said. “I know it’s not my job but I’m glad it got us the three points.”
“After the second goal it was very difficult for us to come back; we showed character and did exactly what the manager wanted us to do,” the Serbian said.
“In these kind of games, if we can manage to win we can compete for the title. The quality is there but we have to be honest: we need to do more.”
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Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United came from two goals down to produce a sensational second-half fightback and beat Crystal Palace 3-2 on Monday night.
Here, using Opta‘s heat and touch maps, we look at home United’s final 15 minutes compared to the rest of the match as the visitors scored twice late on to seal a crucial victory.
Amazingly, it was the first time a side under Mourinho had managed to overturn a 2-0 deficit and win in the Premier League, while the last time the Red Devils achieved such a feat was back in December 2013 against Hull.
Indeed, the manager of the turnaround evoked memories from the late goals we became accustomed to from Sir Alex Ferguson’s side down through the years.
The Old Trafford club’s triumph seemed pretty unlikely after a dour first-half display which saw the relegation-threatened hosts go 1-0 up, and then double their advantage soon after the break.
United’s first-half heatmap showed that they barely mustered a fruitful attack and had to deal with Palace’s forays into their own penalty box frequently.
But that changed in the second 45 as United scored thrice, with the overall heatmap suggesting a much more fluid display from the Manchester giants.
Romelu Lukaku levelled the match at 2-2 on 76 minutes and Nemanja Matic scored his stoppage-time winner, with the graphic below showing United’s territorial pressure in the final 15 minutes or so of the match.
Mourinho’s men upped their possession to almost 70 per cent and weren’t content to leave Selhurst Park with just one point in the bag.
Here’s how United’s players looked as they went for the kill – from 76 minutes to the 95 minutes played in total.
While Matic’s midfield partner Paul Pogba was largely derided for an ineffective display, Matic proved his all-action qualities. His winning goal obviously stole the headlines, but the Serbian was an effective enforcer throughout, helping United to get a grip in a game that was slipping away from them. He mustered three shots on goal, three dribbles and won as many aerial duels in the middle of the park. His improvement was significant in United’s win.
Matic’s first-half touch map
The 29-year-old second-half showing…