Saturday 18 November 2017

Graeme Souness warns Arsenal that winning the FA Cup will be 'a hollow joke' if they miss out on the top four

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, pictured, should step down, according to Frank McLintock
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, pictured, should step down, according to Frank McLintock

Jack de Menezes

Graeme Souness has warned Arsenal that they’re in danger of missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, and that any claim of salvaging their season with an FA Cup triumph would be a “hollow joke”.

The former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder spoke after Arsenal suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat in their Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich,  a result that has left Arsene Wenger’s future as manager in serious doubt.

The Gunners return to action on Monday night when they take on non-league Sutton United, the lowest-ranked side left in the FA Cup, with a quart-final clash against National League leaders Lincoln City up for grabs for the winner.

However, even if Arsenal repeat their 2014 and 2015 successes and win the FA Cup, Souness believes that failure to finish in the top four would pose a huge problem for the club, and tarnish Wenger’s reputation after 20 years in north London.

“Their top-four spot is under real threat and this is where it could get ugly,” Souness wrote in his column for the Sunday Times. “The fans will turn on the players and manager unless there is an immediate revival.

“Another FA Cup win, which is quite possible, would feel like a hollow joke if they failed to qualify for the Champions League. That'd be the wrong way for Wenger's Arsenal career to end.”

Souness went on to explain that an underlying problem has developed among the Arsenal squad that is once again causing their season to unravel after passing the halfway point in the season. Arsenal have developed a reputation for struggling after the turn of the year, and with their Champions League hopes all but extinguished and a 10-point gap to leaders Chelsea leaving them out of the Premier League title race, the FA Cup could prove their only chance of silverware.

The former Liverpool captain explained that under-fire Mesut Özil can be used as the perfect model for Arsenal due to his inability to perform in their biggest matches.

“There is clearly a problem when the best Arsenal player on the pitch in a 5-1 thrashing is a goalkeeper,” Souness added. “Özil copped most of the criticism. It's not a surprise. The German is Arsenal in a nutshell.

“Against the Crystal Palaces of this world he is an absolute worldie player. Against the big boys he is a world away.”

Independent News Service

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