Even if they do smuggle themselves into a Champions League slot, Arsenal players simply must reflect on this season as one of gross underachievement……. Arsene Wenger is staying – and you know it

Arsene Wenger dances a jig (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

Andy Dunn

Even by his own awkward, long-established standards, this one was a beauty.

Arsene Wenger ’s celebration when football’s favourite scapegoat sumptuously scooped this game beyond Stoke City ’s reach.

At least what Wenger thought was beyond Stoke City’s reach.

Mesut Ozil , the selfie-taking whipping boy of the modern game, had stirred himself long enough to saunter on to an Alexis Sanchez pass and softly persuade one high into the corner of the net in front of those Arsenal supporters who give him such an easy time.

Those fans broke into a Mesut tribute song and Wenger into some sort of half-jig, half knee-pumping, half air-punching.

All was well again in the mad, mad Gunners-world.

He is staying, you know it.

Alexis Sanchez celebrates his goal (Photo: Rex Features)

It would not have been Arsenal without a lull into laziness, without a posturing period when they took a brief physical pummelling and collapse poked its head around the corner.

But, for Wenger, the eventual romp was just another nudge towards the dotted line and that combination between Ozil and Sanchez the stuff his dreams are made of.

One day, I swear Wenger is going to hop into a small plane himself and fly it towards the Channel, trailing the message: “I’m off, good riddance.”

For now, though, as long as his charges are producing moments like those, regardless of this season’s finishing position, his plane will remain grounded.

Results and decent performances like this, though, should not camouflage deficiencies.

Even if they do smuggle themselves into a Champions League slot, Arsenal players simply must reflect on this season as one of gross underachievement.

Olivier Giroud bagged a brace (Photo: Rex Features)

Wenger will surely acknowledge likewise, will surely be reproaching himself, particularly for the tardiness in switching to a back three.

With the personnel at his disposal, it just seems to suit.

It gives them a threat from the flanks, an extra attacking string to their bow.

Only a week ago, the result-nailing Danny Welbeck goal against Manchester United came from wide, courtesy of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

In his absence, Hector Bellerin made the right-wing gallop his priority and it was from his break and simple pass that Olivier Giroud tapped in from a distance little longer than his beard.

Wenger will point to the good run in the first half of the season when they were winning games while playing a conventional back four but you can bet he won’t be reverting to convention soon.

It has also found favour with Ozil and Sanchez, it seems, especially when it frees them up to combine like they did for that exquisite second.

Mesut Ozil was also in fine form (Photo: Arsenal FC)

The problem came when Arsenal stood around admiring the genius of Ozil and Sanchez … for about the next 15 minutes.

Peter Crouch cheated, plain and simple. But it came at the end of a spell of Stoke pressure that was the result of blatant Arsenal foot-lifting.

Had Stoke not been in such a trough of mediocrity, they might have taken advantage.

Instead, there was an air of inevitability about the way Sanchez and Giroud sent some locals home early.

In fairness, quite a number stayed for Stoke’s lap of appreciation, along with a few Arsenal fans still dancing to the tune that had been drummed out by Ozil, Sanchez and co.

Even Wenger gave them a wave and a smile as he walked off to consider the next stage of his most unlikely attempt to finish in a Champions League place and, just as likely, to reflect on that Ozil goal, the moments of beauty and think about what lies ahead.

Arsene’s plane will be grounded for some time.

Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football

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