Arsenal legend Paul Merson believes Tottenham’s rise is fuelling the misery for Gunners fans, as the debate over the future of manager Arsene Wenger rumbles on.
Wenger’s current Arsenal contract expires this summer and he is refusing to clarify whether he intends to remain in charge beyond the end of this season.
With Arsenal in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time in Wenger’s 21-year reign as the club’s manager, Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace turned up the heat on the beleaguered manager once more.
Yet the expectation remains that the 67-year-old will attempt to defy his critics by continuing as Arsenal manager for two more years.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sport UK, Merson suggests Tottenham’s status as the Premier League’s second best club this season is adding to the anger rising among Arsenal fans.
“They could take Man City or Chelsea throwing a load of money at it and winning trophies over the last few years, but they can’t take Tottenham getting this far ahead of them,” Sky Sports pundit Merson told us.
“This is going to be the first time in 20-odd years that Tottenham will finish ahead of Arsenal and they are miles ahead of them, miles ahead.
“It’s the north London derby later this month and honestly, Arsenal have got no chance. Tottenham will beat them easy if Arsenal play like they have done in the last few weeks.
“You look at what Spurs are doing with Pochettino and a new stadium on the way and Arsenal suddenly look a long way behind them.
“One club is moving upwards under a great manager and the other is going backwards, that’s what it looks like.
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“It says it all to me that Alexis Sanchez is the only Arsenal player who would get into the current Tottenham team.
“In the past, you would have said none of their player would get into the Arsenal side, but it has completely turned around now and the fans can’t accept that.”
Wenger has been urged to end the confusion over his future by confirming his intentions for next season and beyond, in the the hope that an announcement will allow Arsenal to end the season on a high.
With a push for a top four finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester on April 23rd on their horizon, Arsenal still have plenty of targets to aim for this season.
Yet Merson is not convinced the club’s fans will be won over by an announcement from Wenger, especially if he confirms his plan to stay on as the club’s manager.
“I think it might have gone to far at this stage,” he adds. “The season has fizzled out so much that some of the fans have lost interest. I don’t think it would make much difference if the manager said whether he was staying or not.
“At the end of the day, everyone expects him to stay now. He doesn’t want to go and he believes he can turn it around, but the atmosphere around the club now is as bad as it has been for a long time.
“You look at Alexis Sanchez the last few weeks. He is Arsenal’s best player, but he doesn’t look interested. That is the feeling you get from a lot of the players.
“It’s sad to see, but I don’t see any massive changes coming. I expect the manager to stay whatever happens between now and the end of the season.”
Merson’s pessimism over Arsenal’s slump under Wenger’s watch is shared by former Celtic striker Chris Sutton, who told the BBC that the Frenchman needs to walk away from the club:
"Wenger managed the Invincibles, he's now managing the Invisibles" – Chris Sutton
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) April 10, 2017