Did his players answer Wenger question?

Arsene Wenger will still be in charge when Arsenal play at West Brom again next season.

Did his players answer Wenger question?
West Brom 3
Arsenal 1

That is the clear view of Albion manager Tony Pulis, once again a thorn in the side of Arsenal’s visiting French coach.

Wenger continued to make his future an enigma wrapped in a conundrum after another humiliating defeat that leaves his side almost certain to miss out on Champions League football for the first time in the Frenchman’s two-decade reign.

But the architect of Arsenal’s sixth defeat in nine games said: “I will be surprised if he goes.”

Pulis added: “I think he is the greatest manager Arsenal have ever had and they can still finish in the top four and win an FA Cup final, which will not be a bad season!”

It will not be good enough for the latest breed of Arsenal supporters, who are demanding Wenger wins a fourth Premier League title to justify staying on.

But Wenger increased the pressure on himself long after the match had finished when quizzed on his revelation that his mind was made up, that he would announce his decision whether or not to leave at the end of the season “very soon”.

It was a relatively bizarre exchange between the charismatic coach and reporters.

Asked if he regretted saying he had made a decision when most people thought results would be decisive, he said: “No, no, no, no, no. I take a bigger perspective than that. It’s not the last result that will decide what I will do.”

So it does not matter whether you make the top four? “It will not necessarily be linked with that because I’ve done the top four 20 times. It’s more ... it’s not that.”

It’s not all about finishing in the top four? “No, not anymore. That was for a long time the case but not today. Financially, I mean. Of course on the sporting front it would be a blow but financially the Champions League does not have the impact anymore that it had five or six years ago because of the influx of the television money.”

If Wenger has based his decision on the attitude of his players he would walk now. Their commitment to the cause was half-hearted at best and a lack of focus at a 12th-minute corner afforded Crag Dawson the easiest of headers.

Alexis Sanchez, later kicked out of this match and possibly a few more by a James McClean tackle that earned only a yellow card, equalised with a brilliant goal soon after, but Arsenal were always second-best.

They had all of the possession but David Ospina, on for the injured Petr Cech, was at fault for Albion’s second from Hal Robson-Kanu and it was deja vu all over again as Arsenal allowed Dawson to head in a second header.

A heavier defeat would not have reflected harshly on Arsenal. That they hit the bar and were denied a penalty appeal made little difference to the outcome, Wenger or the Arsenal supporters, many of whom intensified their protests about him signing a new contract this summer.

Pulis commented: “I don’t think that [respect] counts now. I think people live for today. I don’t think they appreciate him. I just wished him the best [afterwards].”

Wenger’s reaction? “Everybody in life is responsible for his own behaviour. I’m responsible for my own behaviour. I don’t judge other people. I give my best.

“As long as I am at the club, whether for two more years, 10 more years or four more months, that will not be different.”

The international break means Wenger will not have to face the media again until the build-up to their home game against Manchester City on Sunday week.

There were embarrassing banners trailed by planes over the pitch both calling for Wenger to stay and go.

With reports now circulating that he will stay for one more season and help manage his succession, it promises to be an interesting couple of weeks off the pitch.

WEST BROM:

Foster 6; Dawson 8, McAuley 6, Evans 7, Nyom 7; Fletcher 6, Livermore 6; Brunt 6 (Yacob 72, 6), Chadli 6 (Field 90, 6), McClean; Rondon 6 (Robson-Kanu 54, 6).

Subs:

Myhill, Olsson, Yacob, Marc Wilson, Leko, Field.

ARSENAL:

Cech 6 (Ospina 38, 5); Bellerin 5, Mustafi 5, Koscielny 5, Monreal 5; Oxlade-Chamberlain 5, Xhaka 5, Walcott 5 (Giroud 65, 5), Ramsey 4, Welbeck 5, Sanchez 6 (Iwobi 78, 5).

Subs:

Mertesacker, Gabriel, Coquelin, Elneny.

Referee:

Neil Swarbrick 5

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