By Ray Hamill
A disappointing season for Arsenal got even worse over the weekend when the Gunners were dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle.
The defending champions fell 4-2 to Nottingham Forest, a below average Championship team, adding more pressure on beleaguered manager Arsene Wenger, who surely is in his final season at the helm.
The Gunners will now turn their attention toward Chelsea and Wednesday’s first leg of the League Cup semifinal.
Wenger’s team has recently also lost ground in the race for a top four spot in the EPL, claiming just six points out of a possible 12 over the busy Christmas period.
That leaves the Gunners languishing in sixth in the standings, five points out of the top four and the coveted Champions League spots.
Whether or not Wenger returns next season has been a hotly debated subject at the Emirates this season, and the team’s recent form hasn’t helped matters, particularly the FA Cup performance.
If the Gunners fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, they will continue to have problems attracting top signings, as they did last summer, let alone resigning their own star players.
Another possibility for the club is to follow Manchester United’s lead and qualify for next season’s CL by winning the Europa League.
The Gunners, who return to European action next month, are currently the bookies’ second favorites to win the tournament at 5-1, behind Athletico Madrid at 10-3.
But with the likes of Napoli and Borussia Dortmund lingering, that won’t be easy.
The other big question marks for the Gunners right now is what happens to Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshire, each of whom are out of contract at the end of the season and has been subject to transfer talk.
One way or the other, it’s going to be an interesting few months for the Londoners.