Arsenal were humiliated by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash as the German giants put five goals past Arsene Wenger’s men for the second time in less than 18 months.
The Gunners, trailing 5-1 on aggregate after an Alexis Sanchez penalty gave the visitors brief hope midway through the first half, are on the verge of elimination from Europe’s elite club competition at this stage for the seventh year in a row despite topping their group for the first time since 2012.
Wenger’s men must now turn their attention back to the domestic stage – and quickly. An FA Cup clash with Sutton United shouldn’t pose many problems but it is difficult to be positive right now.
Four defeats in nine Premier League games prior to the two-nil victory over Hull City last weekend have hindered Arsenal’s chances of finishing in the Champions League places this season; something that the Gunners have managed to achieve in each of the last 20 years.
Sutton are currently 17th in the National League – the fifth tier of English football – but defied the odds to beat Championship side Leeds United in the fourth round. It won’t be straightforward but Wenger will have no excuses if Arsenal slip up against non-League opposition. The Frenchman certainly won’t be given any help from his opposite number Paul Doswell when they travel to Sutton…
The FA Cup saved Wenger’s job in 2014 and 2015 as Arsenal won back-to-back trophies to become the most decorated side in the competition’s history. Since those triumphs, rivals Manchester United have pulled alongside Arsenal with 12 victories but the Gunners will be determined to move back above the Red Devils this season.
Wenger’s men have a decent record in the competition, winning their last five appearances in the final and it would take a brave man to back against Arsenal if they reach the Wembley showpiece. Whether it will save his job as manager or not is another question entirely…
With the Gunners now out of the Champions League, Arsenal must harness their efforts on finishing in the top four AND winning the FA Cup. Wenger’s reputation is in tatters but his legacy as one of the best managers in Arsenal’s history should remain intact; especially if Arsenal can notch a 21st successive top four finish and a record 13th FA Cup triumph.
Anything less and Gunners fans will be baying for blood; and in all fairness, it would be difficult to continue supporting Wenger if Arsenal slip out of the Champions League places.
All eyes now turn to Arsenal’s clash with Sutton and most fans will have one eye on the next round. The prospect of falling short against a Conference side isn’t worth thinking about and Wenger should take Sutton seriously or else risk another embarrassing defeat.
If Arsenal go for the jugular, the FA Cup AND a top four finish are still very much on the cards this season and they might just save Wenger’s job at the Emirates Stadium; even if the Frenchman is considering his future at the club.