Arsenal managed to progress to the last four of the FA Cup with a 5-0 triumph over Lincoln City. However, the match wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests. It took them until stoppage time in the first half to break the deadlock. Until then, the Premier League side delivered a turgid performance and struggled to create many clear-cut chances. They were more dominant in the second half and Arsene Wenger stated after that his side showed that they have their confidence back:
“We have been short of confidence after some disappointing results recently. When the confidence was there in the second half, our quality came back.
“It was all us in the second half but you have to congratulate Lincoln for what they have achieved in the FA Cup.”
The Frenchman is correct in his assessment that his side were dominant in the second half, but they will need to show a lot more to prove that they have their confidence back. Although the Gunners could only beat what was in front of them, this was a non-league side and therefore the match wasn’t a true reflection of where Arsenal are as a team at the moment. They will have greater tests ahead.
The atmosphere around the stadium before the match wasn’t great as protests continued to focus on Arsene Wenger and his position at the club. This is the most pressure that he has been under in recent years and it will be interesting to see what effect it has on him. According to the Mirror, the Frenchman has been told by the club that he must make a decision on his future during the international break. The report goes on to say that Josh Kroenke wants Thierry Henry involved in any new managerial set-up, while Alisher Usmanov wants to target Diego Simeone.
This is a positive story for supporters as it suggests that the club won’t be willing to wait until the end of the season for this situation to be resolved. They understand the enormity of finding a suitable replacement and therefore want as much time as possible to make those moves. If Wenger does leave as many expect him to, Simeone could be the perfect replacement and would certainly be one to get the fans excited. He has done an excellent job with Atletico Madrid and could be the right man to reform Arsenal after years of stagnation. It would also send out a signal of intent to the rest of Europe.
Finally, Alexis Sanchez is becoming an outcast in the Arsenal dressing room after he was at the centre of a dressing room row in recent weeks. His attitude has been called into question and the Mirror reports that his team-mates are beginning to exclude him from the group. The site provides a quote from a dressing-room source:
“Alexis is being moody and disruptive and it’s getting to the rest of the squad.’’
“The players are getting fed-up with it. If it came to a straight choice between which side to choose, there is no doubt they would back the manager.”
This is a worrying story as Sanchez has been the best player at the club this season and they need him firing for their top four push. The league is incredibly tight this season and a dressing room split is the last thing that they need at this stage. The Chilean is likely to leave at the end of the season as he has grown tired of the club, but they need to resolve this and get him back on side until the summer.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane