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Arsene(al) is Done

Those on the inside, as well as fans on the outside, may finally be united in declaring the following:

Arsène Wenger’s reign over Arsenal is (unofficially) over. And as of right now in 2017, Arsenal is (at least temporarily) done as a world footballing powerhouse.

Why “unofficially”?

Despite the chronic problems Mr. Wenger, the 67 year-old Frenchman, has managed (and reinforced) during the past several years as the club’s head coach, he did deliver many great seasons and players in the years prior. Moreover, if Arsène Wenger was going to be fired mid-season, then he would have received his walking papers during the second half of the Champions League match against Bayern Munich earlier this week. Mr. Wenger will, it appears, be given the respect to finish out the 2016/2017 season. The 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich this past Tuesday in London (the second 5-1 loss in the two-game Champions League series against the German giants), again, “unofficially” ended the Wenger Era at Arsenal.

(Press Play, then click “Watch this video on YouTube” and then RETURN to read the remainder of this blog post!)

After this season ends, however, Mr. Wenger and Arsenal have to part ways. This moment is unambiguous, even to the painfully reluctant owners of Arsenal with the power to hire and fire the manager.

But there is a significant risk to giving Mr. Wenger the managerial elasticity to finish the current English Premier League campaign. Arsenal is currently in fifth place, having a dreadful past few weeks. If Mr. Wenger can inspire his players unlike games prior (seriously doubtful), then the new Arsenal manager (TBD) will have the potential for immediate redemption in the 2017/2018 Champions League. But if Mr. Wenger can’t inspire his players to find that missing greatness on the pitch (seriously plausible), then the new Arsenal manager will have to sit-out of the Champions League for the 2017/2018 season.

The Gunners are engaging in the tricky dynamic of Risk v. Respect. Both options are understandable.

Moving forward though, what good is a canon if it only shoots blanks and completely fails to intimidate its targets?

Predictable? Yes. Unstoppable? Also Yes.

What is it the kids say these days? “Flashback Friday”?

For one very specific reason, I’m glad the kids do. Actually, I’m technically happy for five specific reasons. But those added four take a back seat to the aforementioned one on this Friday. And don’t worry, you’ll see why and how I arrived at that conclusion shortly.

If you survived that linguistic adventure, then congrats! In human speak, Bayern Munich hosted Arsenal for the first game of the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Due to the very nature of the home-and-away game setup, the home side has the burden of scoring many goals while not conceding the always valuable away goal.

The bad news is that Bayern Munich did let one of those away goals slip past their goal line (even after an incredible penalty kick save by Manuel Neuer).

The good news is that Bayern Munich managed to score one…two…three…four…yes, five goals against Arsenal at their Fortress of Winning (a nickname I’m trying out) known as the Allianz Arena!

Ladies and gentlemen, the aforementioned one moment isolated for this “Flashback Friday”comes from two days ago. But trust me, it’s definitely worth the immediate flashback treatment.

(Watch the entire highlight to see the ball’s ridiculously awesome path to the back of the net)

Wait, I thought Arsenal’s nickname was “The Gunners”?

I say that because it looks like Arjen Robben’s left foot should be the one declared a sharpshooter with laser precision.

He Was Gunning for Them

Arsenal (“The Gunners”) have not had many reasons to celebrate in triumphant fashion in recent years, yet they’re reminded at every home game at Emirates Stadium of the eternal truth that one goal can change everything.

To celebrate this “Throwback Thursday,” let’s visually travel back to the far back yesteryear of 2002. The match was Arsenal hosting its bitter rival Tottenham Hotspur and the player was Thierry Henry. If you’re struggling to place Thierry Henry, he’s that world-class French forward who doesn’t run in strides, but glides with speed and cool precision.

I present the story of his goal and its iconic (and elaborate) celebration that literally and figuratively cemented Mr. Henry’s legacy in London.

What’s French for power and strength?

Thierry Henry.

At least France has one non-joke answer to that question.

The Optical Delusion of Arsenal’s Arsène

New career need: Reality Translators.

Leaders in the modern world continue to view black and white situations in clouds of utter disbelief. From business leaders to politicians to presidential wannabes to ship captains to sports figures to members of the media to celebrities and so on and so forth, far too many people in positions of power and influence just cannot admit failure and concede defeat. There’s always a caveat and the end result can never make that individual look poorly, entitled or (dare it be written), wrong. To say it’s frustrating to watch this continuous spectacle would be a massive understatement.

It would be like trying to claim victory after a loss.

The latest example of this impenetrable manager in today’s society is Arsenal’s head coach Arsène Wenger. The Gunners’ UEFA Champions League woes during the past several seasons (as predictable as rain in England) continued yesterday after the underdog squad from Monaco advanced to the quarterfinals of the most prestigious club tournament in the world. Scoring 3 away goals in a shocking 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium in London a couple weeks ago was enough padding to advance following a 2-nil loss at home against the relentlessly firing Arsenal.

Make no mistake about it, this was a spectacular upset. David v. Goliath. Even with Arsenal’s recent troubles in Champions League play, losing to Monaco was never supposed to happen…and this includes on PlayStation and Xbox.

And what was Arsène Wenger’s reaction after suffering a major upset against the club he managed more than 20 years ago? BBC Sport got the most telling reaction.

Asked if Monaco deserved to progress, Wenger said: “I don’t believe so.”

“If you look at the number of shots on target they had you will be surprised. Every defeat hurts but we didn’t lose.”

Yes, you did.

(FYI – Mr. Wenger: In soccer, it doesn’t matter how many shots are on target, it matters how many goals go in the net).

In a word, the Frenchman is delusional. Let’s add a couple more words: discourteous and unprofessional. Soccer is fluid, unpredictable and ripe for the unthinkable to happen and this tie (soccer slang for 2-game series) proved why games need to played and not predetermined on television. His team lost and Monaco won, pure and simple. It’s long past the point where listening to these sincerely unbelievable explanations by leaders in power who fail or mislead people is genuinely dispiriting.

Just ask fans of Arsenal and Monaco.