Following their abysmal 5-1 defeat to the hands of Bayern Munich on Wednesday, Arsenal fans must be searching high and low for reasons to be positive.
For the Gunners faithful that follow the #WengerOut philosophy, they were potentially handed a life-line by Arsène Wenger during Friday’s press conference.
“No matter what happens I will manage next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else. That’s absolutely for sure.”
The legendary French boss is not confirming he will be leaving, but he’s not exactly picking out wallpaper samples and planning his long-term future.
Ivan Gazidis reportedly held talks with manager on Thursday, but Wenger refused to confirm a final decision on their offer of a two-year contract extension.
As far as many are concerned the overwhelming feeling is that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
However, even if you are disappointed by that thought, there are reasons for all Arsenal fans to keep their head up.
Future Starts in a Strong Position
Regardless of his decent record, David Moyes was never the man to take Manchester United forward after Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down.
With respect to the great Scottish manager, he left the man he hand-picked with a terrible uphill battle.
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the end of their careers, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, and Robin van Persie, all the wrong side of 30.
It was too big a job.
Yet, at Arsenal, although they have their ageing players too, the strong financial position of the club, plus Wenger’s excellent record of finishing in the top four, puts the Gunners in an enticing place.
Who wouldn’t want to come in and shake things up a little. They have an excellent youth system, and although Wenger might have lost his way in terms of developing talent, the club hasn’t stopped producing the prospects.
They have skills in that department, plus, have shown ability to build teams from the ground and play some excellent football with it.
“I think what is important is that the club makes the right decision for the future,” continued Wenger. “I did not work here for 20 years not to care for the club. I had many opportunities to go somewhere else during that period and I care about this club and its future. It’s very important that the club is always in safe hands, whether it’s me or somebody else.
Arsenal are a team with a huge upside, and that will guarantee they won’t fall the same way as United did.
Open the Transfer War Chest
That healthy financial position gives the club the opportunity to spend this summer.
Regardless of who stays or who goes, a new manager will have funds to spend in the off-season. With no international tournament, it’s a long transfer window, and these days, decisions aren’t just made by the coach.
Arsenal will have men working around the clock to find and identify the right players to complement what they already have.
In some ways, the amount that other clubs are spending and the manner in which they go about it has passed Wenger by. This does not mean you should go all guns blazing, but it needs to be done swiftly.
That’s where the current regime has let themselves down.
Arsenal fans will look forward to seeing what new management to achieve with a healthier sense of acting fast and signing cheques.
Chance of keeping Alexis Sánchez
The ongoing contract situation with Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez will make Gunners’ fans uneasy – well maybe not the German after his recent performances.
After the 5-1 defeat and Özil lacklustre display, the agent of the former Real Madrid star spoke out about the criticism.
“Criticism is normal if a player plays badly,” Dr Erkut Sogut told BBC Sport.
“But Mesut feels people are not focusing on his performance; they are using him as a scapegoat for the team after bad results.”
When agents speak out, it is usually for bad reasons and it makes the possibility of the 28-year-old leaving the Emirates this summer.
Contracted until 2018, it’s not like he can leave for free, he will still command a fee, but if Arsenal are not having to stump up for a new deal for Özil, they can go big on Sánchez.
He is the one truly world-class player that the North London club has and he is the one they should be concentrating on, not the misfiring, often lazy, German.
The Chilean was the one urging his team forward on Tuesday, while Özil turned his head in the opposite direction as Arjen Robben bore down on goal.
All Arsenal’s efforts, with Wenger or without, should go to keeping Sánchez.
Players to Build Around
There are quite a few players at the club that could easily be cast aside without worry of losing any talent.
Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, even Lucas Pérez and Gabriel Paulista are all replaceable.
After Sanchez, the squad has Héctor Bellerin, the 21-year-old defender, perhaps one of the best in Europe at the position.
The jury is out on Shkodran Mustafi, but beside Laurent Koscielny, the German centre-back will continue to grow. He is just 24 years old and with the Frenchman, 31, and still on top of his game, the duo can develop as a partnership.
Granit Xhaka is still just 24 but with two red cards and a host of disappointing displays against the top clubs, he’s not lived up to his huge fee.
However, under Wenger, players haven’t progressed the way they used to. Xhaka, after a shaky start, can only improve going forward.
Arsenal saw something in his, he was a target for so many clubs, he has more to give. It may take someone different to tap into that potential.
Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Alex Iwobi all have potential, but fans will hold out until they see them more often before laying the club’s future at their feet.
Aaron Ramsey should be part of that list, still just 25, but his injury problems, just like Jack Wilshere, have held him back. He could be an integral part of their development, but you can't count on the Welshman just yet.
“Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future, that’s a part of it,” admitted Wenger in Friday’s press conference. “If you look at when I arrived, Arsenal had played less games in the Champions League that I had managed in my career already.”
“I hope in the future that we can win this trophy, or Arsenal can win this trophy. But it’s not like before I arrived, Arsenal had won five European Cups – they had never won it and had played about 10 games in it in the history of the club. You have to put some demands in perspective.”
For all the reasons above, in this, one of the darkest recent times for the fans, there are reasons for Arsenal fans to find some positives ahead of their FA Cup fixture against Sutton United.