It’s the subject that has been exercising the minds of Gunners fans all season. With Arsene Wenger’s contract coming to the end in the summer will the 2016-17 season be the Frenchman’s swan song at the Emirates or will he still be in the driving seat when August comes around?
Now the issue has been brought into even sharper focus as the team are in with the chance of some silverware if they can beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final on 27th May after the hard fought win over Manchester City in extra-time. After all, the team’s victory against Hull City in the 2014 final came at the same point in Wenger’s previous round of contract negotiations, the Gunners miraculously came back from 2-0 down to win their first piece of silverware since 2005.
Some are saying that a win for Arsenal will be the encouragement he needs to commit to a few more seasons at the club while others believe that it will be the chance to leave on a high. Of course, if Chelsea win it could be a very different story indeed – and the odds certainly seem to be in their favour.
The semi-final victory against Manchester City has been seen by many as a sign that a more combative team is re-emerging, especially in the way that they scrapped to make it to extra-time and then seized the opportunity to grasp victory in the extended period. There are also hopes that this will help them in the Premier League run-in, with some confidence restored after a third straight win in all competitions against Leicester City on Wednesday night.
It’s also certainly true that the tournament has seen the team enjoy some of their most decisive victories, for example by beating Southampton 5-0 in the 4th Round and crushing the hopes of Lincoln City by the same margin in the quarter final.
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However no-one wants to be reminded of the two very similar scorelines in the two legs of the Champions League encounter against Bayern Munich – dual humiliations which did a great deal to fan the flames of speculation about Wenger’s future with the club.
Over the past few seasons betting on the Premier League has become more and more common especially with so many football specials including the ability to bet on transfers and consequently the futures of current managers and potential replacements.
At the current time it seems like remaining at Arsenal is certainly the bookies’ favourite with odds-on prices being widely quoted. The next most likely outcome is that after this season he won’t be in management at all. After all, having earned an estimated salary of £8.3 million for the last three years it’s not as if he’ll need the money.
One move that is being mooted is to join a Chinese Super League club following on the heels of other managers like Scolari and Eriksson. Alternatively this summer may also see openings emerging at European clubs including Juventus, Barcelona and Monaco. There could even be the outside possibility that he might be considered as manager of the French team if Didier Deschamps ever falls out of favour.
Naturally, this is all just idle speculation at this stage and the two men who will ultimately have a say in the matter are Stan Kroenke and Wenger himself. How the outcome of the match on May 27th will affect this, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure – if there is a parting of the ways his legacy as the team’s longest serving and most successful manager ever is certain to stand for many years to come.