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Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge

50-50 Challenge

Five candidates to eventually replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

The ESPN FC crew discuss who's to blame for Arsenal's shock 2-1 defeat against Watford in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Is it finally time for Arsenal to bite the bullet and get a new manager? A limp FA Cup exit at home to Watford and the likelihood of also bowing out of the Champions League this week in Barcelona has intensified the pressure on Arsene Wenger, with a growing number of Gunners fans calling for his head. It's been happening around this time of year for the past few seasons as they seem incapable of making the final push for the Premier League title. But this season it's not Chelsea or the Manchester clubs in their way; it's low-budget Leicester and, gallingly, bitter rivals Tottenham.

To many Arsenal fans, the club seems to be treading water and Wenger is to blame. Perhaps the game has caught up with the man who was such a revolutionary when he first arrived in England 20 years ago. Wenger's critics believe he hasn't learnt from his mistakes, and that the team needs a fresh, younger voice and approach to revitalise it.

Yet Wenger's exceptional record, longevity and influence make it extremely unlikely that Arsenal would ever just ruthlessly sack him. It's also unlikely that he will step down of his own accord before his contract expires in May 2017, despite turning 67 in October. The other option is that he could be persuaded to take a role "upstairs." Yet that could leave the club with a problem when it comes to appointing his eventual successor, as many coaches would feel compromised by his presence in any sort of hands-on role.

One thing that seems certain is that Arsenal will stay true to Wenger's footballing philosophy and, when the time comes, appoint a manager who is an advocate of attacking football. It won't be a return to the dour defensive days of George Graham -- even though it might bring more success -- so I don't expect them to receive a letter from Jose Mourinho any time soon.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, their ideal candidate is currently unavailable; last year, Joachim Loew extended his contract with the German national team until 2018 and is likely to prefer a crack at defending the World Cup than returning to club management. The tactically astute German and his excellent management team -- already familiar with Arsenal through the club's many current and former German national team players -- would fit the bill perfectly at the Emirates. Though Loew has a variable track record with his various club sides, his World Cup success would give him the prestige to assume a similar role to Wenger's, overseeing everything from the academy to the first team, and afford him protection from media criticism at least in the short term.

However, as it seems as though Arsenal will need to look elsewhere for now, here are five other candidates they might be inviting in for a chat.