In Depth

Arsenal humbled by Crystal Palace: The final straw for Wenger?

Gunners fans chant for the manager's head - but Palace supporters rub salt in the wound as they beg him to stay

Crystal Palace 3 Arsenal 0

By Gavin Mortimer

If Arsene Wenger had any sense of honour he would hand in his resignation this morning. His team have now become a joke, a sick one, if you're an Arsenal fans, and Monday night's 3-0 thrashing away at Crystal Palace was surely a new low in a season that has thrown up many contenders. 

It's hard to describe just how awful Arsenal were, although two statistics speak for themselves. The visitors enjoyed 72 per cent possession yet managed not one shot on target after the interval. This from a club who ran out at Selhurst Palace knowing that three points would keep them very much in contention for a top four finish. 

As it is, Arsenal's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are all but over. They lie sixth, three points behind Manchester United, and seven behind Manchester City. They have a game in hand on the Sky Blues but with the exception of the perpetually-deluded Wenger, no-one in their right mind seriously believes that a club that has won just one on their last five league matches will overhaul Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. 

As Arsenal captain Theo Walcott admitted: "Palace wanted it more. You could sense that from the kick-off." 

Walcott, along with Hector Bellerín, Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi, had games to forget, and his shocking admission will be seen by many as reason enough to sack Wenger: If a club like Arsenal can't get themselves up for a crucial end-of-season fixture then there is something rotten in the dressing room.  

It's been clear for a number of weeks that the players no longer believe in their manager, uttering inane platitudes to the press about how they owe so much to the gaffer, but then wandering aimlessly around the pitch, disorganised and disinterested. 

Andros Townsend put Palace one up on 17 minutes and two goals midway through the second-half then killed off the visitors, the first from a Yohan Cabaye shot and the second from Luka Milivojevic's firmly-struck penalty as the Eagles moved six points clear of the relegation zone. 

Many of the Arsenal faithful could take it no more, striking up a chant of "Arsene Wenger, we want you to go". The Palace fans responded by singing "Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay".  

It's sad to see a once-respected and feared manager, mocked by the away fans but that's what Arsenal have sunk to in the last few seasons under a Frenchman - a side without style, shape or spine. 

"We lost too many duels and we paid for that," said Wenger, who has now lost four consecutive league matches on the road for the first time as Arsenal manager. "There is no obvious reason why. We prepared and everyone prepared well. It's difficult to explain just after the game."

Asked about the hostile reaction of the Arsenal supporters to the defeat, Wenger said: "I understand our fans are disappointed and we all are deeply tonight. It's very worrying and disappointing the way we lost the game."

Wenger told reporters he's "not in the mood" to discuss his future but those Arsenal fans with the club's best interests at heart will hope he spends Tuesday drafting his resignation letter.

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