Arsène Wenger has urged Arsenal fans to turn out in force for Tuesday's game against Sunderland and ignore a boycott designed to speed up his dismissal.
Wenger still silent on Arsenal future
The long-serving French boss has still to announce if he will be staying at the Emirates Stadium when his current contract expires after the end of the season. Arsenal have just three games left before their season ends - two in the Premier League against Sunderland and Everton and an FA Cup final showdown with newly-crowned champions Chelsea.
In contrast to their London rivals, Arsenal have not won the league since 2004 and Wenger has come under renewed pressure this season with his side in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League. Arsenal have finished in the top four every season since the Frenchman took charge 21 years ago but following Liverpool's 4-0 thumping of West Ham on Sunday, they now rely on other results to maintain that proud record.
Gunners depend on results elsewhere
Middlesbrough who, like northeast rivals Sunderland have already been relegated, must beat Liverpool on Sunday if Arsenal are to have any chance of retaining a place in European football's premier club competition. This season has already seen a number of 'Wenger out' protests by supporters groups, including planes flying over grounds carrying messages urging the 67-year-old to quit and marches before games, with some empty seats visible at recent Emirates fixtures. Now there are calls for mass boycott of Tuesday's match at home to Sunderland.
But Wenger, who yet again refused to comment on his Arsenal future, told reporters on Monday, “My message is always the same, it is to support the team”.
A statement on onlinegooner.com asked fans not to turn up for the mid-week game against the Sunderland: “We are calling on fans that feel the same way to boycott tomorrow evening's match. Please consider joining us in this boycott. Don't sell your seat to a tourist or give it to a mate. Let yours be one of the many gaps in the stands that send a direct and unarguable message to the directors. You do not want to watch any more of the same old same old. If you are in any doubt, look at our season and compare that to Chelsea, Juventus and Atlético Madrid. We are a bigger club than all three of them but we are being held back by a greedy owner and a past it manager. By doing this, we can send a message to Stan Kroenke (Arsenal's US-based owner) and Arsene Wenger that Arsenal should be doing so much better”.
Arsenal have won six of their last seven games with their only defeat coming against Tottenham Hotspur, who on Sunday beat Manchester United in the last match at White Hart Lane to ensure they finish runners-up behind Chelsea. Arsenal, who finished second to Leicester last season, could actually end with more points this term but would still fail to qualify for the Champions League.
“Our chances depend on winning our games. We have 69 points, so we can get to 75. That will be four points more than last year, so let's focus on finishing as well as we can...We had a difficult period and we recovered from it”, Wenger concluded.