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Despite tweaking their game plan to espouse dogged defending and high press, Arsenal succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at home to treble winners Barcelona on Tuesday night. With Arsene Wenger acceding that his side has a measly 5% probability of turning things around in front of 80,000 Barcelona faithful in Spain, the Gunners may as well prioritize domestic glory now.
Arsenal currently sit third in the Premier League, only two points behind shock leaders Leicester; however the odds are relatively low that they end their 12-year title drought as the Foxes enjoy a comparatively easy set of fixtures going forward.
With Arsene Wenger’s contract coming to an end in 2017, they are suddenly in dire need of reestablishing themselves as title winners.
Will Mesut Ozil be happy at Arsenal without titles?
With 17 assists to his name in the Premier League, Mesut Ozil has been setting Emirates Stadium abuzz, but his long-term Arsenal future can be up in the air come June; Telegraph reported earlier this month that Arsenal’s Champions League round-of-16 opponents in Barcelona may come calling once the transfer window opens.
Given the unprecedented success of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez up front, Luis Enrique’s potential interest in the former Real Madrid midfielder should not be a surprise as his genius could help the club set the bar even higher for their nemeses.
The German playmaker sometimes seems fish out of water in the Arsenal team as cameras capture him showing signs of disbelief and frustration in light of his colleagues’ gaffes every now and then. Should he win PFA Player of the Year award without a Premier League medal hanging down his throat, a Camp Nou switch will ostensibly entice him. The last time an Arsenal player won the very award, he went on to lift the Premier League title next season, except with their bitter rivals in Manchester United, and the Arsenal number 11 is no Jack Wilshere or Carl Jenkinson either.
In addition, Hector Bellerin has reportedly caught the eyes of Barcelona already, and his quality, pace and attacking contribution from the defense are what every elite European club is after; his age will only tempt the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to pursue him.
Arsenal may end up going back to 2010 – a period of when they had the feeder club label on their forehead.
Can the next manager guarantee Champions League football, let alone Premier League title?
Chances of Arsene Wenger’s successor retaining his philosophy are little to none, and the English top-flight has already witnessed how devastating infusing a different, yet tried and tested philosophy into a club that had epitomized a certain playing style for decades, with a hugely successful gaffer in Louis van Gaal failing to meet the standards set by Alex Ferguson.
The difficulty in adapting and implementing a new philosophy could topple even the club that has never finished outside of top four for almost two decades.
With the responsibility of maintaining the status of the club already putting great weight on the shoulder, the departure of world-class players will make running Arsenal a Herculean task for the next manager.
In addition, the media scrutiny and the Arsenal supporters, who are usually quick to criticize – and praise – may even force the next manager into instructing his players to be horny before a game.
Will Arsenal still be in the top-four picture despite the rise of the Hammers?
Brentwood Gazette reported earlier this week that West Ham United would try to pursue Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whom they value at £15million. As much as the report puts an accent on the stagnant career of the England international, it also stresses upon the heights the Hammers have reached since their promotion in 2012.
Manchester City are where they are today only after signing Wayne Bridges and Craig Bellamys, and the London club may as well follow in the footsteps of the Citizens, given they are moving to the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.
In addition, television money and the readiness of Champions League and Europa League managers such as Slaven Bilic, Ronald Koeman, Quique Sanchez Flores and Claudio Ranieri to take charge of mid-table clubs, we may witness dramatic rise and fall of teams, and Gooners will hope that Arsenal retain their title contenders status through this transition period.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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