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February 17, 2017
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted that he will not retire at the end of the season but could not confirm whether he will still be in charge at the Emirates Stadium come 2017-18.
The 67-year-old Frenchman has come under huge pressure since Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 on Wednesday by Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, and there has been widespread speculation he will step down at the end of 2016-17 after 21 years in charge of the Gunners, per the Times.
However, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth-round clash with fifth-tier Sutton United on Monday, Wenger confirmed he will still be a manager next season, although it could be somewhere other than Arsenal, per the Evening Standard‘s James Olley:
James Olley @JamesOlley
Wenger: “No matter what happens, I will manage next season whether that is here or somewhere else.”
He revealed that he will make a decision about his future in March or April and warned that Arsenal will still lose games even if he does depart, per ESPN FC’s Mattias Karen:
Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren
Wenger: “Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future. That’s part of it, you have to accept that.”
The fallout from Arsenal’s drubbing to Bayern—which will likely see the Gunners condemned to a last-16 exit from the Champions League for a seventh year running—was instant and inevitable.
It included reports of a “dressing-room bust-up” which reportedly involved assistant manager Steve Bould throwing a water bottle and could result in forward Alexis Sanchez’s departure from the club, per the Sun‘s Charlie Wyett.
Wenger denied any such incident took place, per the Mirror‘s Liam Prenderville: “Everybody was deeply disappointed, but there was no incident in the dressing room.”
Arsenal will need to bounce back from their midweek woes when they face lowly Sutton at Gander Green Lane.
Realistically, the Gunners are on a hiding to nothing, though, as a convincing win will be expected, and anything other than that will provoke further criticism.
Arsenal’s capitulation against Bayern saw them concede four second-half goals after Laurent Koscielny went off injured.
Wenger confirmed that the centre-back is still being assessed ahead of the visit to Sutton, but he also hinted that he would put out a strong team and not make wholesale changes, per Olley:
James Olley @JamesOlley
Wenger: “Koscielny has a scan today. It will be a normal team [against Sutton].” Suggests Reine-Adelaide and Maitland-Niles may play.
Arsenal are 10 points back from leaders Chelsea in the Premier League and only just clinging on to fourth place, so the FA Cup is their only remaining realistic chance at winning silverware this season.
Given that, it would be little surprise to see Wenger field a strong team against Sutton and claim a convincing win to put them into the quarter-finals.