Ivan heaps a teaspoon of pressure on Wenger, via the papers

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Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal could be decided by the club’s form in the Europa League, according to stories published simultaneously in the Mirror, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail.

Out of the FA Cup and languishing in sixth place in the Premier League table, the Gunners are now hoping to rescue their season with success in the Europa League and League Cup. The former would represent a back-door route to the riches of the Champions League, while the latter a timely boost on the domestic front given it requires a win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Failure to secure silverware, coupled with a consecutive season finishing outside the top four, would be likely to point a spotlight on Wenger’s struggles, especially as he’d again be entering the final year of a contract this summer.

The articles all hint that the manager’s status will be reviewed at the end of the season but also stress that no decision will be made until then. The underlying vibe is ‘Ivan’s in charge now bitches’ and a reassurance that all the high-profile backroom changes form part of a succession plan. At the same time, we’re obviously a long, long way from Brutus sticking the knife in Caesar’s back just.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about this conference call journalism, Ivan’s ‘not so under the radar’ briefings are becoming something of a tradition when the going gets tough and the fans get grouchy.

It’s over to Arsene now. If he bites back with a couple of trophies and Champions League qualification, it’ll no doubt return Ivan to the box that Kroenke keeps him in. Albeit temporarily. That said, the dynamic at the club certainly appears to be changing after so many years.

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