Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal not ready to say bye to Wenger just yet, says Martin Keown

By Tom Allnutt

Arsene Wenger should be given one more season at Arsenal to allow the club time to prepare for his departure, says former Gunners defender Martin Keown.

Keown also added his voice to those criticising Mesut Ozil's recent performances, describing the midfielder as an "icing-on-the-cake type player", who fails to pull his weight defensively in crunch matches.

Wenger's future remains the most pressing concern given the Frenchman's contract expires at the end of the season, with his team on course to end a 13th consecutive campaign without winning the Premier League. They currently trail leaders Chelsea by 10 points.

Keown, who was part of all three of Wenger's title-winning squads in 1998, 2002 and 2004, believes Arsenal's longest-serving manager should be granted one more year at the helm.

"My gut feeling is that he'll stay and then it's really how long he'll stay for," said Keown.

"I imagine he'll be given more time but I think maybe only one more season.

"Then the club can row back from that if they need to. If he was to win the Champions League or the league they could look at extending it again.

"But to get everyone on board and for the fans to buy into it, it would be like a one season to go, one more season for Wenger, and it would give the great man the time he deserves."

A section of Arsenal supporters have grown increasingly frustrated with the team's lack of progress in recent years and many expressed their disapproval during the team's recent defeats to Watford and Chelsea.

"The problem you have is Arsene Wenger is a very special individual. You're inspired when you're in his company," Keown said.

"The board and the people around him, the decisions they've made, he's had a huge influence in those, so they can't just snatch him away.

"He has to help the club decide when the right moment is. We are getting closer to that. It's the timing of his exit that needs to be planned. If he was to go at the end of the season I'm not sure the club would be ready.

"We've seen Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola arrive at Liverpool and City and they've not been successful either in terms of winning trophies."

Arsenal now turn their attention away from the league and towards two polar opposite cup ties, the first against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League last 16 first leg tomorrow, and the second against non-league Sutton United at Gander Green Lane in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph


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