Arsenal's Title Hopes Gone with Loss to Bolton: Is Wenger To Blame?

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIApril 24, 2011

BOLTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger chats with Bolton Wanderers Manager Owen Coyle (R) prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal at the Reebok Stadium on April 24, 2011 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has won a lot of hardware for the trophy cases at Emirates Stadium over the years.  But it has been awhile since the trophy case has needed to be opened.

Wenger has been the head man at the legendary London club since 1996.  His club has won the league  three times, but not since the 2003-2004 season. This season will be the seventh in a row without finishing in the top spot.

Arsenal has won the F.A. Cup four times under him, but the drought since the last one (2004-2005) has hit six years.

He has never led the club to a Carling Cup title.

As far as the Champions League, little success there as well. Only once has Wenger led his club to the final, and that resulted in a loss to Barcelona in the final six years ago.

I am not questioning Wenger's ability to manage at the highest level, but perhaps it is time to question whether Wenger has the ability to pull out titles and final victories.

This season was Arsenal's for the taking. Manchester United and Chelsea, who have dominated English football over the last six or seven years (during the Arsenal hardware drought), have both had a bit of down year. This was undoubtedly Arsenal's best chance in several to win the league.

But what have they done with opportunity? Nothing. Another third place finish seems inevitable. Again they are looking up at United and Chelsea.

After another disappointing outcome on Easter morning versus Bolton (a 2-1 loss), the Gunners find themselves in third, with little chance of catching United for the title. Just four games remain in the season and Arsenal trails United by nine points.

Wenger has spent more time this year blaming referees for losses than he has himself or his club. It seems there has been a great conspiracy this year among English officials to keep Arsenal from winning the title.

The low point for me came last week when, at the end of the match against Liverpool, a penalty kick was given to Liverpool in stoppage time, resulting in a draw. Wenger, so upset at the call, refused to shake Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish's hand. Dalglish approached Wenger smiling and Wenger threw his hands up in the air, mouthed a couple of words at Dalglish, and turned away.

In recent Premier League games, with the title still at stake, Wenger's club has drawn with Sunderland, W.B.A., Blackburn, Liverpool and Tottenham. And now the shocking loss versus Bolton.  All games, perhaps with the exception of Tottenham,  they should have won easily.

Despite the talent and experience on this club, they have continually failed to reach realistic expectations.

Who is to blame for this?

I'm sure Arsene will find someone.