Wenger to extend Arsenal contract: The case for and against

Critics point to a long-term decline at the Emirates, but manager still believes his side are on the cusp of great things

Arsene Wenger with the FA Cup
Arsene Wenger celebrates with the FA Cup
(Image credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty)

Arsene Wenger is expected today to end a season of speculation and sign a two-year extension to his Arsenal contract. The news will delight and depress the club's fans in equal measure after a season in which supporters have come to blows over the question of their manager.

Some are desperate to see him go, convinced that at the age of 67 and after 21 years at the Emirates, the Frenchman has run out of energy and inspiration.

Their evidence? The 13 years since their last league title, the 11 years since they were credible contenders for the Champions League and, above all, the fact that this season the club failed to qualify for Europe's showpiece competition for the first time in 20 years.

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Wenger's supporters insist the manager has been let down by his players, not to mention a run of bad injuries stretching back several seasons, and that the manager still has what it takes to compete with rival bosses most of whom are 20 years his junior.

Their evidence? Arsenal's FA Cup triumph, their third title in four seasons, which this season included victories over Manchester City and Chelsea.

Wenger, unsurprisingly for a man not short on self-belief, is adamant that Arsenal are on the cusp of greatness and, having tweaked his formation in the latter stages of the season - deploying a three-man defence for the first time in 20 years - he has put the last piece of his jigsaw in place. Next season he is sure the Gunners will be challenging for the league title.

But Gary Lineker isn't so sure. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, the former England striker turned TV pundit, had a warning for the Frenchman: "Arsenal have got a long way to go at the moment," he said. "If you ask me now whether Arsenal are going to be in the top four next season, I would say most probably not. They are further behind than Wenger thinks."

Adding that he found it "remarkable" that the decision on Wenger's future had been decided by him and him alone, Lineker said: "The only other example of a manager that decides when and where he goes is Sir Alex Ferguson, but he was still winning league titles. Arsene Wenger is still winning FA Cups and until this season he had always got in the top four, but now that's changed."

A poll on the BBC Sport website found that 58 per cent of respondents considered it a good thing that Wenger was poised to pen a new deal with Arsenal. But how many of those were Gooners and how many were delighted opposition fans?

Judging by the Daily Mirror's take on the reaction on social media to the unofficial news that the Frenchman was extending his stay at the Emirates, Arsenal's rivals see Wenger as the man best placed to oversee another season of mediocrity in north London.

"To me, Wenger's new contract is like winning a cup !" tweeted one ecstatic Spurs fans, while a Chelsea supporter said it was "genius of Conte to throw that [FA Cup] game in order to keep Wenger in".

But the most painfully brutal response came from a Manchester United fan: "Louis van Gaal won the FA Cup & finished 5th - Fired," he tweeted. "Wenger won the FA Cup & finished 5th - new contract extension."

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