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How Much Longer Can Arsene Wenger Last Without Winning the Premier League?

Daniel Tiluk@@danieltilukFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2015

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on February 7, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

As the longest tenured manager in England's top four divisions, besting second-place Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale by nearly 10 years, Arsene Wenger is a staple in English football (he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006).

Breaking Arsenal's nine-year trophy drought on 17 May, winning the 2013/14 FA Cup in thrilling fashion over Hull City, the Frenchman signed a three-year contract extension two weeks later—as announced by the Gunners' official website—keeping him at the Emirates until the 2016/17 season reaches its completion.

The days of Patrick Vieira have long-since vanished in north London.
The days of Patrick Vieira have long-since vanished in north London.Phil Cole/Getty Images

An argument could be made there is no better managerial option for Arsenal Football Club at the moment. Wenger knows the club inside and out, and he has maintained a successful culture in north London for nearly two decades.

In that time, the Gunners have won three Premier League titles, but since their 2003/04 "Invincibles" season—have launched 10 unsuccessful campaigns to reclaim England's top honour.

This season appears a two-horse race between an improved Chelsea and defending champions Manchester City, with a quintuplet of clubs (Arsenal, Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool) competing for two spots for Champions League qualification.

Arsenal's wait for domestic supremacy appears to be continuing into the 2015/16 campaign. So, short of winning the FA Cup for the sixth time or shocking Europe and winning the Champions League, Wenger's job will likely be a source of incessant speculation come the offseason.

Arsenal have been consistently good over the past decade—but rarely great.
Arsenal have been consistently good over the past decade—but rarely great.Ian Walton/Getty Images

Though, like a cat, the French boss always seems to have another life to spare himself. Wenger has built an interesting dynamic in north London. While certainly not completely, he is as close to untouchable as any manager in world football.

A great relationship with the Arsenal board and consistently in the Champions League picture ensures his usefulness and makes replacing a known commodity seem ludicrous.

The question which needs answering is: Do Arsenal need a new voice and fresh ideas from their manager position?

Wenger has constructed, arguably, the best-looking football project in England. The Gunners' free-flowing, attacking aspect is beautiful to watch in full flow and not many clubs can cope with them—both domestically and on the continent.

Might the presence of Francis Coquelin—or an even better player of his ilk—breathe new life at Arsenal?
Might the presence of Francis Coquelin—or an even better player of his ilk—breathe new life at Arsenal?Clive Mason/Getty Images

Since their glory days of a decade past, however, Arsenal have been less balanced and have often found themselves on the wrong side of "big matches" which determine who lifts silverware, especially in the Premier League.

Discovering a new leaf vs. Manchester City at the Etihad last month, Wenger seems to—at the very least—have realised this imbalance and brilliantly set up his side to dismantle the reigning English kings.

This hopeful new wrinkle in Arsenal's game should be given another season to develop under Wenger: trophy or not, Champions League football or not.

Spending on "sexy" talent is terrific, but trophy-winning sides need midfield and defensive warriors—Arsenal have few of those.
Spending on "sexy" talent is terrific, but trophy-winning sides need midfield and defensive warriors—Arsenal have few of those.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The north Londoners have spent upwards of £130 million over the past two seasons, bringing in the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. For all their offensive prowess, though, world-class pieces are needed elsewhere.

Given the summer transfer window to revamp his team—culling dead weight and bringing much-needed steel into his squad—Wenger should have every chance of completing his deal and possibly staying with his club, but there must be improvement.

Arsenal have been wandering around the same mountain for what translates to ages in football years.

Their long-serving boss has shown glimpses of a willingness to adapt but, short of true reform, Wenger standing on the Emirates' touchline past the 2016/17 season without winning the Premier League—or coming tantalisingly close—would classify the Gunners' long-term fate as dire.

Stats via WhoScored.com; transfer fees via Soccerbase.com where not noted.

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