It’s far too early in the Premier League season for anyone to panic. That said, Arsenal hasn’t looked good. If Arsenal Drops, Who Could Replace Arsene Wenger?. A 4-3 opening win over Leicester City made for a nice start to Premier League play, with long-time striker Olivier Giroud sealing the deal on a dramatic comeback. Since then, however, the Gunners have gone 2-1-2, and they haven’t exactly been up against a buzzsaw of top-tier clubs. Arsenal sits at seventh in the league at the time of this writing, and this early in the season that means just six points out of the lead. But the way the top of the Premier League tends to excel, that’s a dangerous gap for six matches in.
Again, it’s too early for anyone to panic. But with Arsenal coming off several years appears to be half a tier below the top EPL teams, a start like this is almost undoubtedly going to renew discussion that Arsene Wenger could (or should) be sacked. This may actually be particularly tricky in 2017. A manager can be sacked just about any time, but Wenger signed a new two-year contract just this past spring, with club owner Stan Kroenke making it clear that he trusts his man to return the Gunners to glory. This at least makes an early firing seem very unlikely, as it would represent a pretty abrupt turnaround in mindset.
However, if Arsenal continues to drop in the early going, perhaps falling out of the top-10 with another few tough outcomes, things could get interesting in London. Looking ahead to the “sack race” among Premier League managers (and mentioning Wenger in the process), one writer pointed out that it can seem that the season of a football club is decided in the first few games. This has certainly been true in recent EPL seasons, and if it remains the case, the Gunners could indeed hover outside of contention for the bulk of the 2017-18 campaign. This would have the supporters calling for Wenger’s sacking – something they’ve done multiple times before.
It’s probably a little premature for the discussion. But given that Arsenal is among the bigger football clubs in the world it’s a conversation worth having. Who might be in line to replace Wenger if he is sacked, or even if he’s simply let go after his two-year deal expires?
According to at least one publication looking at who could replace Wenger, Patrick Vieira might be the leading candidate. A former club captain with Arsenal and a member of the 2003-04 “Invincibles” team that finished an EPL campaign undefeated, Vieira is currently in the United States, managing New York City FC. He hasn’t particularly distinguished himself in that capacity, but he does have leadership experience and would likely appeal to many supporters simply because of his connection to Gunners glory days.
Diego Simeone has also come up as a potentially ideal replacement or successor to Wenger. If you were, to sum up Arsenal’s issues in recent seasons with a single statement, it might as well be that the club has failed to play up to the level of its own talent. Simeone, meanwhile, has gained a reputation for getting the most out of his players. He has Atlético Madrid consistently playing like one of the top teams in Europe, with good but not necessarily stellar talent. He has no experience in London, but if he can achieve similar results with Arsenal’s roster (and budget), it will put the Gunners back in contention for major European titles.
And then there’s Thomas Tuchel, whose name comes up mostly because he happens to be available. Tuchel left Borussia Dortmund after the 2016-17 season and is known to be a clever and inventive coach who might just be able to inject some life into Arsenal’s attack. Tuchel is not quite the obvious fit Simeone or Vieira might be, but if Wenger winds up being sacked mid-season, he might be the easiest replacement.