Even the staunchest Arsene Wenger supporter will tonight concede that this latest humiliation in the FA Cup Fifth Round may well be the last straw for the Arsenal faithful. Wenger made the decision to play a weakened side against Blackburn Rovers, who are in the Championship division. He did this in the knowledge that he had a very difficult Champions League game to play on Tuesday against Bundesliga leaders, Bayern Munich. Does he stick or twist you might ask?
Wenger decided to play some of the fringe players against Blackburn because being at home at the Emirates Stadium; he expected to have an advantage. After all, Blackburn has not exactly been setting the Championship alight! He did, however, take the precaution of having his best players on the substitute bench; little knowing that he would desperately need them later in the match.
You felt that this was going to be difficult for Arsenal from the start, as Blackburn started very brightly. Moreover, players like Gervinho, given yet another chance by Wenger, literally wilted. He was totally ineffectual and he was not alone. The whole team looked like they would have preferred to have been elsewhere than on the football pitch playing a Championship team fighting for its life.
Unfortunately for Wenger, Blackburn did not read the script and when Colin Kazim-Richards scored for Blackburn, it was nothing more than they deserved. It still was supposed that Arsenal would soon regain their composure and respond, however, the longer it went on the more desperate thing became for Arsenal. Eventually, Wenger did move to change things and made three substitutions in one move but it was too little too late. Even with the likes of Jack Wilshire on the pitch, Arsenal could not break down a stubborn Blackburn rear-guard. Eventually, they ran out of time. It may well be that time has finally run out for Wenger.
This was Arsenal`s last real chance of any sort of silverware this season, as nobody really expects them to progress in the Champions League. Boos rang out long and loud at the end of the match and you wonder how much longer the Arsenal board can allow this situation to continue. Despite the dire circumstances, it is still unlikely that they will sack Wenger, but do not be surprised if they start to make moves to replace him in the Summer. It is also likely that he will be allowed to fall on his own sword rather than be pushed out.
Eight years without a trophy for a club like Arsenal is unacceptable and even `Le Professor` cannot excuse that statistic any longer.