Wenger farewell fails to fill the Emirates

Arsene Wenger will be stepping down as Arsenal's manager at the end of the season, after 22 years in the job.

The Emirates Stadium ahead of Arsenal's home game against West Ham United.   -  AFP

 

Arsene Wenger's decision to bring his 22-year reign to a close at the end of the season still wasn't enough to tempt many Arsenal fans back to the Emirates for one of the Frenchman's final games at home to West Ham on Sunday.

Wenger, 68, had come under growing pressure to go from disgruntled supporters having failed to win the Premier League for 14 years before announcing his decision to leave on Friday.

In his programme notes, Wenger reiterated his plea for the fans to get behind the team for the rest of the season with Arsenal still in with a chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League via the Europa League.

But there were only sporadic chants of “there's only one Arsene Wenger” from the home support after some goading from the visiting West Ham fans.

Wenger won three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups with the Gunners.

But, Arsenal is on course to finish lower than ever under Wenger in the Premier League as it kicked-off in sixth, just two points ahead of Burnley.

It hosts Spanish giant Atletico Madrid in the first leg of its Europa League semifinal on Thursday with the victor from that clash likely to be the favourite for a final against either Marseille or Salzburg.

“For now, there are still seven football matches to play this season - hopefully eight if we can triumph over Atletico - and my immediate thoughts have to be about these games, starting with West Ham today,” said Wenger, in his programme notes.

“My love and support for Arsenal will last forever and I urge our fans to stand behind the team so we can finish on a high.”

However, just as in recent home games against Manchester City, Watford, Stoke and Southampton in the Premier League, empty seats could be seen around the Emirates on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon in the English capital.

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