Arsène Wenger turned Arsenal into an “afterthought” when he signed a contract extension in the summer, according to Craig Burley.
The former Chelsea midfielder was speaking to ESPN about the Gunners after their loss to Watford, and suggested that Arsenal were no longer the focus of anyone’s attentio, reports the Daily Star.
When asked about the defeat, he said: “I thought we had stopped talking about them on the show. There is no surprise, was there any surprise? I know there was no (Alexis) Sanchez.
“Do you know when this all unfolded for Arsenal? When Arsene Wenger grabbed that biro pen and he put Arsene Wenger on that white bit of contract for £8m-a-year or whatever it is for that two-year deal. As soon as that happened, they just became an afterthought.”
Arsenal fans probably feel like their team is a bit of an afterthought at the moment, especially with all the big Champions League games being played. It’s only once they’re all done and dusted that the Gunners get their turn on Thursday evening, but in the Europa League.
The same thing happens in the league, since Thursday night matches mean Arsenal generally don’t play until Sunday or Monday, so their rivals have already played before them and could build up a lead in the table.
It doesn’t help that when those league matches do come around, Arsenal aren’t putting in the kind of performances they need to put themselves back in everyone’s minds. However, it seems a bit simplistic to put that all on Wenger signing a new contract, in my opinion.
Much of the complaints above come from last season’s performances leaving the Gunners in the Europa League, not Wenger’s new deal. But Burley is clearly arguing that once the agreement was signed, he knew exactly what was coming next, and three losses in the first eight league games just confirmed the theory, for him.