Arsene Wenger claims to have made a decision on his Arsenal future, with an announcement expected to arrive "very soon". English football's longest-serving manager is out of contract this summer and growing unrest over his leadership has reached an all-time high after the Gunners, recently humiliated in Europe by Bayern Munich, went down 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion to lose four out of five Premier League games for the first time since 1995.
A section of disgruntled supporters have held protests against Wenger's management over recent weeks and plenty of 'Wenger Out' placards were visible once again in the away end at The Hawthorns. The ongoing internal civil war between Arsenal fans over such a divisive issue was summed up in rather farcical fashion by two banners that were flown over the ground during the early stages of the first half, one of which demanded that he not be handed an extension and the other declaring "In Arsene We Trust".
"I don't know," Wenger responded in his pre-match press conference when asked if a decision on his future might change the attitude of those protesting. "Don't worry, I know what I will do in my future. You will soon know. Very soon.
"Today I do not necessarily worry about that. We are in a unique bad patch that we have never had in 20 years. We lose game after game at the moment, that is for me much more important than my future."
When asked if he had informed anyone at the club about his decision or if he would use the upcoming international break to make an announcement, he simply replied: "No, no, no."
On the protests themselves, he said: "I watch the game, I do not watch the stands during the game. I believe that you have to live with that. You focus on your job, no matter what people think."
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Arsenal's task in the West Midlands was made far more difficult by the premature departure of goalkeeper Petr Cech due to a calf injury. Goalscorer Alexis Sanchez also suffered a heavy blow to the ankle following a robust challenge from James McClean, but played on for much of the game before being replaced by Alex Iwobi shortly after Craig Dawson made a mockery of Arsenal's set-piece defending to head home a corner for the second time.
"He was injured from the tackle in the first half," Wenger said. "It was a bad tackle. His ankle is in an absolutely terrible state. He should not have played in the second half but he insisted that he wanted to come out. In the first half he was the one who created many chances, made dangerous situations and in the second half you could see that he couldn't anymore. In the end we had to take him off. He should not even have played in the second half."
Sanchez is in the Chile squad for an important World Cup qualifying double-header against Argentina and Venezuela. Arsenal will be keen to avoid a repeat of the episode that followed a hamstring injury picked up by the influential forward on international duty in November.
"Chile goes to Argentina for a massive game but they play only next week and if it's only a kick, he will play," Wenger said. "If the ligament is damaged, he will not play."
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