Tensions at Arsenal reached a new level after fans staged a ‘Wenger Out’ protest before watching their team thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. A toxic atmosphere has descended over the North London club in recent weeks, with fans’ anger mostly directed at manager Arsene Wenger.
The Arsenal boss suffered his heaviest home defeat since the move to the Emirates Stadium, as the Gunners collapsed to an embarrassing 10-2 aggregate defeat, meaning they crashed out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage for the seventh successive year.
A large group of protesters marched before the game and displayed banners that read ‘no new contract’, in reference to Wenger’s deal with expires at the end of this season.
The anti-Wenger sentiment intensified last weekend after Alexis Sanchez was dropped to the bench for the game against Liverpool, following rumours of a dressing room bust-up.
The Chilean striker returned to the starting line-up on Tuesday, but produced one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt before being subbed off in the second half. Sanchez then watched on in disbelief as the German side ran amok, and appeared to smirk after Vidal netted Bayern’s fifth.
After the game, fans gathered outside the ground to continue their protest against Wenger, with some also calling for club owner Stan Kroenke to sell up.
At the club’s AGM in October, Kroenke made it clear he wanted Wenger to stay on. At the time Arsenal were joint leaders in the Premier League with Manchester City and Liverpool, but a series of poor results mean they currently sit 16 points behind Chelsea.
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“The last 13 years, we have been struggling and never really challenged for the league,” said Claude from Arsenal FanTV. He added, “What he (Arsene Wenger) did on Saturday was the final straw, when he put Sanchez on the bench. I want the man to go with respect and his head held high.”
Speaking to Islington Now, Arsenal fan Darren said: “Wenger is to blame. Years of failing to sign the players we needed. He can’t motivate us. He can’t get the best out of an average bunch. He’s lost it. He’s insane. Get him out and save us this embarrassment.”
With video by James Somper
Read more: Arsenal battered 5-1 by Bayern