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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gunners poised for decisive derby

For Tottenham fans this season has been the one they have waited years for. Under the guidance of Harry Redknapp they are launching a sustained title bid while their north London rival Arsenal appear to be in something of a mini-crisis.

A perceived lack of investment in the playing squad has seen the Gunners decline as a Premier League force in recent seasons.

They are also huge outsiders in the Champions League betting to progress to the next round following a 4-0 spanking at the hands of AC Milan in the first leg.

Throw in a FA Cup defeat at Sunderland and it means their hunt for another trophy will extend into an eighth year, something totally unacceptable to a fanbase who has grown used to success under Wenger..

With their participation in next season’s Champions League under threat, their perilous grip on fourth could be broken by their bitter rivals this weekend, with Tottenham arriving at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal have usually had the upper hand in these contest in the last decade, but recently things have changed and it will be a nervy crowd who watch football live at the Emirates and one that may may turn on the side if things do not go their way early on.

An Arsenal supporters trust meeting took place this week and was scathing about thecurrent Gunners set-up.

"More infrastructure is needed around Arsene Wenger, or whoever the manager is," an AST spokesman said. "It's a set-up dating from 1996, but without [former vice-chairman] David Dein.

"Did the manager have the option to use all or some of these cash reserves in summer 2011 and January 2012, or are resources being held back as a contingency for failure to qualify for the Champions League?

"Our wage spend is 40% higher than the payroll at another club in north London and Arsenal are in danger of being overtaken more than temporarily by those who spend their wages more efficiently.”

All these questions again raise doubts as to the future of Wenger, with many pundits suggesting his reign has gone stale and a fresh injection of new ideas is needed to reinvigorate the club.

A win over bitter rivals Spurs may given the Frenchman some breathing space as he doggedly tried to turn the club around.

But a defeat could make his position, occupied since 1996, look very shaky indeed.

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