Arsenal crisis: Five games that ruined Arsene Wenger's reputation
A growing number of fans want to see the Frenchman leave after another bruising season that has exposed his tactical shortcomings
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger celebrated 20 years in charge of the Gunners last year, but this season could be his last if fans get their way.
After another disappointing season the French manager, who was once seen as a visionary and a great innovator, is starting to look like yesterday's man.
Time and again this season his Arsenal side have been exposed, sometimes by top-class opponents and sometimes by teams they should be beating:
Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 - August 2016
The new season brought high hopes for Wenger's men and a visit from Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side was the perfect chance for the Gunners to stake out their title credentials on the opening weekend of the campaign.
Unfortunately Arsenal's perennial defensive frailties were once again on display as the Gunners folded and went from 1-0 up in the first half to 4-1 down by the 63rd minute. A makeshift inexperienced central defensive pairing of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers bore the responsibility but it wasn't the only time this season that the team's lack of cohesion was exposed.
Man City 2 Arsenal 1 – December 2016
Unbeaten for three months, Arsenal began the busy festive period looking like they'd turned a corner. But by the end of Sunday 18 December the goodwill was gone after the Gunners threw away two key games in quick succession.
Against Everton, Arsene Wenger's men dominated proceedings before falling late on. Against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, the Frenchman was caught out by the Spaniard's half-time tactical switch.
Leading 1-0 at the break, the Gunners were outfoxed and outflanked by City's roving front four in an abysmal second half display. The team's performance was summed up by the anonymity of Mesut Ozil who spent much of the second half aimlessly ball watching as the game continued around him.
Arsenal 1 Watford 2 – January 2017
Watford's trip to the Emirates may well go down as the defining moment of Arsenal's season. Victory would have cut Chelsea's lead to just six points and breathed life into the title race before a trip to Stamford Bridge the following week. But with Wenger serving the second of his four-game touchline ban for pushing a fourth official, Arsenal simply failed to show up against the Hornets.
Afterwards Wenger admitted his team were not "mentally up for the clash" but it appeared it was the physicality of Watford's strike force and Etienne Capoue's influence in midfield that unnerved the Gunners' first choice backline.
Almost inevitably Arsenal capitulated the following week against Chelsea and the gap between the two sides was suddenly 12 points.
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 5 – March 2017
Having been routed in Munich three weeks earlier, when Arsenal went 1-0 up at home against the German champions, they seemed on course for a cathartic but ultimately irrelevant victory in the last 16 of the Champions League.
But it was not to be. The game turned on the referee's decision to upgrade Laurent Koscielny's initial yellow card to a red for fouling Robert Lewandowski in the penalty area but there could be no excuses for what followed the converted penalty as the Germans went on to score four goals in 17 minutes. The Gunners' abject capitulation summed up a season of discontent with the tie ending 10-2 to Bayern and Arsenal again failing to reach the quarter finals of the Champions league for the seventh season in a row.
West Brom 3 Arsenal 1 – March 2017
Fresh from their dismal display in the Champions League and a hiding-to-nothing win against FA Cup darlings Lincoln City, Wenger's men travelled to West Brom with rumours surrounding the Frenchman's future still swirling.
Battle raged in the skies above the Hawthorns, as planes carrying banners for and against the Frenchman flew over the ground, but Wenger had cause to be more concerned about events on the pitch.
Tony Pulis would have been the last person Wenger wanted to face and once again he got the better of Arsenal in a match that exposed all of the Frenchman's failings. The Gunners dominated possession but lacked killer instinct, living up to all the old cliches about Wenger's Arsenal.
The team's insipid performance – and two identical goals for the Baggies from set pieces – prompted a series of demonstrations after the final whistle demanding Wenger's departure.