Previous
Macedonia U21
Portugal U21
2
4
FT
Game Details
Serbia U21
Spain U21
0
1
FT
Game Details
Toronto FC
New England Revolution
2
0
FT
Game Details
Houston Dynamo
FC Dallas
1
1
FT
Game Details
Next

Transfer Rater: Chris Smalling to Arsenal

Transfers
Read

Wenger, Sanchez and Ozil futures plus UCL hopes put Arsenal in limbo

Layla Anna-Lee thinks this is the year that Arsene Wenger will finally finish outside of the top four. Is she wrong?
The stands were a bit empty for Arsenal vs. Sunderland, De Bruyne nutmegs the kit man and so much more in The Sweeper.

Despite still having something to play for this season, Arsenal are in a strange, almost unique, kind of limbo.

They head into the final game of the Premier League season knowing that a top four finish, while out of their hands, is still possible. If they beat Everton at the Emirates on Sunday, and Liverpool fail to beat Middlesbrough at Anfield, another season of Champions League football awaits.

It would be, even by their standards, one of the most nerve-wracking finishes to a campaign, reminiscent of 2006 when Tottenham lost away to West Ham, allowing the Gunners to clinch fourth place on the final day in what was the final game at Highbury.

Whether that happens this time around remains to be seen, but there's no switching off after the league season is completed. They have to remain focused for the FA Cup final the following Saturday where they'll be hoping to win the famous old trophy for the third time in four years, as well as denying Chelsea the double.

And yet, so many questions hang over the club right now. First and foremost: Who is going to be manager next season?

The future of Arsene Wenger has been relentlessly pursued but there's been no clarity from him or the board. Will winning the cup be enough for a new contract? Do the club have any plans to make a change regardless of what happens in that game? Who is going to make the decision? When is that decision going to be made?

There are also big issues to be sorted out in terms of the playing staff too. The star men, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, are hugely important to the club on the pitch, and the reputational damage it would do to lose them goes without saying.

If Arsenal were to finish fifth, their presence still makes the club a relatively attractive proposition for new recruits, but should they leave it would make potential candidates think twice about the direction Arsenal are going in.

Beyond those two, there are others who are heading into the final year of their deals too. Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the returning Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs. There are players who, despite how long they might have left on their contracts, need to find pastures new, having underperformed and been part of an Arsenal squad that too has played below par for another season.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez teamed up to give Reading trouble on Saturday.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil's contract expire at the end of next season.

New players need to come in and they need to know who is going be managing the club next season. If there's anything at all that hints at Wenger staying it's the reports that say the Gunners have secured the signing of Schalke's Sead Kolasinac. It's not impossible that he's just happy to come to Arsenal regardless of who's in charge, but chances are he's been given some assurances over the future of the Frenchman.

Arsenal also have long-standing issues with recruitment and scouting. Both those departments are in need of a major overhaul, yet Wenger remains resistant to the idea of a director of football. He views the role as one that impinges upon the authority of the manager, whereas it could easily be viewed as one which helps and supports that man, making his life easier and his work better.

Wenger does the work of many men, it's a workload he cherishes -- protects, almost -- but at some point the club has to future-proof itself to his departure, and having that football executive role up and running is an important part of that process.

In some ways the football that's left this season is a sticking plaster to all those issues. Arsenal could well up with Champions League football next term and a trophy to parade at the end of this season, but once the games are gone, the focus will turn to all the work that has to be done. They've got to be ready to take care of it quickly and efficiently.

Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.