LOSE AND YOU’RE A GUN­NER! Un­der-fire Weng faces make-or-break clash

Midweek Sport - - SPORT - By JON WEST

ARSENE WENGER knows his em­pire will fi­nally come crash­ing down if his side lose at Fener­bahce tonight.

The Gun­ners could still qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League if that hap­pens.

They could pull it around in the sec­ond leg at the Emi­rates – or sur­vive if the Turks get chucked out for match fix­ing.

A de­ci­sion on that is­sue will be made in a week’s time, the day af­ter the sec­ond leg.

But Wenger could be gone by then – swept away by a tide of fan anger.

There is al­ready no mar­gin for er­ror af­ter Satur­day’s open­ing day maul­ing at home to As­ton Villa.


Tak­ing on Fener­bahce in the Sukru Saracoglu Sta­dium will prove a test of char­ac­ter, but Wenger is con­fi­dent it is one Arse­nal can pass.

He said: “We fought very hard last sea­son to be in the top four and this game has a vi­tal im­por­tance.

“It is a con­se­quence of what we tried to achieve last sea­son and there­fore, on the back of our de­feat against As­ton Villa, it’s im­por­tant as well to bounce back straight away.

“To be part of the top level – that is for us the most im­por­tant thing.

“All the rest are the con­se­quences of it. When you are a player, you want to play at the top level and that’s what the Cham­pi­ons League is about.” Wenger added: “We try to win every­where we go. That is the only tar­get we have to set our­selves.

“We re­spect Fener­bahce highly but in the his­tory of our club we have gone every­where, all over, and al­ways had a de­sire to win and that is what we will do again.”

A sum­mer of no sign­ings – plus hope­lessly doomed bids for Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney – mean the sup­port­ers have had enough. The Villa de­ba­cle was fol­lowed by a furious spree of panic bids, with New­cas­tle sud­denly get­ting a £10mil­lion of­fer for Yohan Cabaye.

Not so long ago Wenger would have been first in the queue for any French player, but Cabaye is more likely to end up at Paris St Ger­main.

The Gun­ners trav­elled to Turkey with news of knee-jerk bids fil­ter­ing in from all parts of the globe – Swansea duo Michu and Ash­ley Wil­liams, Va­len­cia goal­keeper Vi­cente Guaita, Cle­ment Gre­nier of Lyon.

But they will all cost big bucks. The Swans want £35m for their pair, and that’s an amount Wenger sim­ply can­not bring him­self to part with.

To add to his woes, he could be with­out mid­fielder Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain for up to six months.

The 20-year-old limped out of the Villa de­feat with a knee prob­lem that could also af­fect his chances of mak­ing the Eng­land World Cup fi­nals squad.

There was bet­ter news on Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ram­sey, Jack Wil­shere and To­mas Rosicky, who all trained yes­ter­day.

Fener­bahce’s Raul Meireles reck­ons Arse­nal are ripe for rolling over.

The for­mer Liver­pool and Chelsea mid­fielder said: “The pres­sure is on Arse­nal – that gives us an ad­van­tage. The key is to go to Lon­don with a tight score­line.”

MISFIRING GUN­NERS: Knee-jerk bids for Cabaye

and Michu in­di­cate the pres­sure on Wenger

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