It seems slightly surreal to think the man who has led his club to eight consecutive top two finishes, three of which were title wins, could be forced out of Arsenal so ignominiously. Big changes are needed, in staff, in approach, in mentality and many other aspects of how the club and team is being run.
This weekend, Arsenal and Tottenham face off on Sunday in a North London derby at the Emirates (13:30, Sky Sports1) with the managers experiencing contrasting levels of support. Harry Redknapp is being wooed by the FA and fawned over by the media. He enjoys the loving support of Spurs and England fans alike. That may all change after the Euro 2012 Championships but for now Arry can’t do a thing wrong.
Arsene Wenger on the other hand is fighting to justify his very football philosophy as well as his position as the manager of Arsenal Football Club. This season will be his seventh without winning some silverware, falling far short of the bar he set himself when he arrived from Japan to revolutionise English football.
That shellecking at the hands of a decent but far from brilliant AC Milan side has forced him to admit some uncomfortable truths. “I felt we were never in the game, we were very poor offensively and defensively. It was shocking to see how we were beaten everywhere,” he candidly admitted following that 4-0 defeat and near certain exit from the Champions League.
The contrasing fortunes of the rival bosses is an interesting underlying narrative to this derby and one which should lend itself to an entertaining, passionate and preferably high-scoring game. Both sides are coming off poor results, Arsenal’s consecutive defeats to Sunderland in the FA Cup and then AC Milan and a very flat looking Spurs side were held to a scoreless draw by League One side Stevenage Borough in their FA Cup tie. Both sides have something to bounce back from and points to prove to differing degrees.
Given the derby atmosphere and their natural attacking styles of football, we can be hopeful that they’ll look to prove themselves by trying to score as many goals as they can. Recent history supports this. Last season the two sides met three times and shared 16 goals in those three games. Even adding in Spurs’ 2-1 win at White Hart Lane this season, that makes 19 goals in their last four meetings. That’s an average of nearly five goals a game.
The Arsenal players’ pride will have a taken heavy blow in the San Siro. If they don’t come out fighting in this game then Le Professor really is in trouble. Spurs, with water-walking Redknapp in charge, will believe they can add to Arsene’s misery. As long as there are plenty of goals to enjoy, the neutral fans amongst us will be happy.