Wenger will be pardoned but must rip it up and start again

CHANGE is in the air at Arsenal, and not only in the boardroom. With Arsene Wenger’s men failing to convert decent form and promising situations into an actual trophy for the sixth season in a row, there is a growing feeling that the tipping point has finally been reached and that major changes are needed over the summer.

Because as incredible as the circumstances of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool were, certain features of that capitulation have become calling cards for this team. They are specialists at squandering leads, masters of creating mayhem in their own penalty area. A 102nd-minute equaliser was only a matter of (stoppage) time.

Even facets traditionally strong under Wenger have waned. They are not the attacking force they once were, as evidenced by their failure to penetrate defences who show a modicum of resilience.

Theo Walcott aside, they desperately lack pace going forward, and do not have a striker who regularly plays on the shoulder of the last man.

Where once Wenger’s Arsenal would transform defence into a goal inside 10 seconds, a vintage Gunners breakaway strike has become rarer than a Manuel Almunia clean sheet.

EXASPERATING

And let’s debunk the myth that they are good to watch. Ask an Arsenal fan whether they have enjoyed sitting through the last half a dozen seasons. There is nothing enjoyable about seeing your team toy with success only to blow it. Again. In ever more exasperating fashion.

So depressingly predictable has it become that increasing numbers of lovelorn supporters believe Wenger is the root of too many failings. The big question is whether new majority shareholder Stan Kroenke is ready to axe the Frenchman.

It looks highly unlikely. Kroenke is a cautious type and called Wenger “a wonderful manager” only last week.

But more importantly, it would be too dangerous for his own popularity. Sacking a pillar of the club weeks after taking control would not be good PR for an American who has only been to a handful of Arsenal games.

So it will fall to Wenger to fix his own faults. There is certainly no shortage of candidates to be moved on from the playing squad: Denilson and Abou Diaby to name two. With fan morale at a low and a reshuffle taking place in the boardroom, there may never be a better time for him to rip it up and start again.