Reaching the FA Cup Final may prove to be the silver lining in a season where Arsenal failed to mount a serious title challenge and were knocked out by Monaco in the Champions League. Although the Gunners have put themselves in a good position to finish second behind soon-to-be-crowned champions Chelsea, retaining the FA Cup may be the only way that the 2014/2015 could be considered a success. Beating Aston Villa on May 30th would represent Arsene Wenger’s sixth success in the most prestigious cup competition in England, but it could turn out to his most important as sources have suggested that he will leave at the end of the season. “Will Arsene Wenger leave Arsenal FC at the end of the season?” are headlines that have begun to appear in newspapers and online, with stories emerging that the Frenchman will move upstairs or move onto pastures new if he feel he cannot take the team any further. There has been nothing to suggest that there is any foundations behind these rumours or that they are mere fabrications, but winning the cup would be the best way for Wenger to end his nineteen-year legacy at the club if he does decide to step down.
Irrespective of the growing rumours surrounding Wenger’s future, Arsenal must focus on winning the FA Cup and let other matters take care of themselves. The Gunners have the advantage of a game in hand over their closest rivals in the chase for second, so there is still plenty of play for before the trip to Wembley; letting the speculation affect the players is the last thing Arsenal need, particularly before a cup final. Arsenal will undoubtedly be favourites to lift the famous cup if they manage to increase their nine-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, but they can ill-afford to be complacent against an Aston Villa team who have been revitalised under Tim Sherwood. Wenger admitted that Arsenal were lucky to get past Reading in the Semi-Finals, and if the team needed any reminding of what can happen if they under perform or take their opponents lighting, then Steve Clarke’s side certainly delivered it.
Will victory sway his decision?
Although Wenger does have his critics amongst the Arsenal faithful, many fans will hope that the team go on to lift the cup for their manager who has come under increasing pressure to deliver silverware over the last few years. There has been no indication that the board are willing to displace Wenger as manager, so it will ultimately come down to Wenger to decide his own future. Lifting the FA Cup may influence his decision as it could present an opportunity to go out on a high and end his legacy at the club in the right manner, or it could make him even hungrier to carry on and lead Arsenal to further glory.
Going nine years without a Premier League title has placed considerable pressure on Wenger to make amends, particularly after the ‘Invincibles’ paved the way for Arsenal to dominate – foundations which the team have since failed to build upon as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City have caught up. Winning the FA Cup may appease some of the fans’ desire for more success from a group of players they believe should be able to achieve more, something which has led to the majority of blame placed at Wenger’s door. If the Frenchman does decide to move upstairs or leave following victory at Wembley, then there can be no doubt that his legacy will always be remembered and fans will appreciate the wonderful success he brought to the club.