Newcastle vs. Arsenal: Arsene Wenger Proves Worth as Gunners Secure 4th Place

Tom KinslowFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2013

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (c) celebrates with his players after the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on May 19, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

There are few constants in this world. You have life, death, taxes and Arsene Wenger in the Champions League.

Despite prophecies of negative spirals and various other obituaries for arguably the greatest manager in Arsenal's history, he found a way to keep his squad in Europe's most elite club tournament for one more season.

For all of the talk of Wenger being past it, of being too cheap and being too stubborn to fix a broken system, it was his gambles in the second leg against Bayern Munich in the knockout stages of the Champions League that swung the campaign.  

Telegraph Sport previously shared this scene on Twitter:

Most managers wouldn't have dropped keeper Wojciech Szczesny for Lukasz Fabianski and they certainly wouldn't have dropped club captain Thomas Vermaelen for Laurent Koscielny. Those changes inspired a great performance from a club in dire need of a spark and started the run that ended up with a Champions League place in Wenger's back pocket.

Koscielny took the chance and never looked back, as he was vital to the defensive discipline down the stretch and once again scored the winning goal that put the Gunners into a Champions League place with a twirling strike early in the second half.

Szczesny's demotion was a wake-up call for a talented but inconsistent keeper. When he returned to the starting 11 following Fabianski's rib injury, his play was markedly improved. Both gambles could have backfired, but Wenger knew his team and knew his players, and it led to another improbable run to end the season in which Arsenal won eight of their final 10 Premier League matchups.

For all of the criticisms lobbed at Wenger over eight trophy-less years, the stark reality of the matter is that there are few managers in the world who could have managed the type of consistent performance shown by Arsenal since their move from Highbury.

Regardless of your opinion of Wenger's offseason spending, the truth is that he has been severely hamstrung by the financial constraints created by the construction of Emirates Stadium. There won't be silverware to go with it, but the consistency at the club since the move is one of Wenger's greatest achievements as a manager.

Now, it seems as if Wenger is seemingly set to lead Arsenal into a new age of success, as the club is seeing an influx of profit from increased commercial deals. First there was the new deal with Emirates to extend the kit sponsorship deal through 2018 and the stadium sponsorship through 2029 for £150 million (per the BBC).

There are also reports of a massive kit manufacturing deal with Puma, which according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, would pay the club £170 million starting with the 2014-15 season. These are deals that represent a massive increase over the old deals and would give Wenger a massive transfer kit to work with for the foreseeable future.

This is a vital summer for Arsenal and Wenger, and with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all going through periods of readjustment with new managers, it's important that the Gunners make a serious statement of intent in the transfer market.

There is a strong core in place, and without any major star angling for a summer move, Arsenal have a chance to stake their claim among England's elite, and no Gooner should want anyone other than Wenger at the helm after yet another miracle run to the Champions League.