With Arsenal in the midst of a horrid run of form, Arsene Wenger‘s future with the club after 20 years is up in the air, and many have tabbed this as one of the more glaring reasons for the team’s struggles.
Wenger himself has been asked many times about how this is affecting the squad, and he’s consistently denied that it is having any affect on the mental state of the players. Now, however, he is starting to give in.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of Arsenal’s Monday matchup with Middlesbrough, Wenger was asked flatly if his questionable contract situation could be affecting the players.
“I don’t know but I hope not,” Wenger said. “When I speak about mental test it is to perform, no matter what the circumstances are around you. Is that an influence? I’d say I hope not. But what is for sure is that in the last three months there has been no consistency, especially away from home.”
Wenger has consistently called upon his squad to have mental fortitude to perform under any outside circumstances, urging his players to concentrate solely on their duties on the field. Not many fans are buying it, however, and the players are starting to sour on the sentiment as well.
Mesut Ozil, a player under heavy fire for his effort on the field, admitted last week to the Mail on Sunday that Wenger’s current situation is vitally important to him, as the Frenchman was a big reason he came to Arsenal. “It’s not just important for me, but for the whole club,” Ozil said. “It’s important to know if he stays or if he goes. We need to think towards next season. He’s very important. In my career I’ve always made decisions not just because of clubs, but managers too.”
So while Wenger can ask his players to concentrate on the job at hand, that might not be the reality.
The Gunners sit in seventh in the Premier League table, and Champions League qualification looks out of reach, with fourth placed Liverpool nine points away.