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Time running out for Arsenal's Wenger
by Paul Kennedy, February 16th, 2012 12:34AM

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TAGS:  arsenal, uefa champions league


[WORLD VIEW] Can it get any worse for Arsenal without Arsene Wenger saying enough is enough? The Gunners fell at AC Milan, 4-0, on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, all but assuring an exit at the first hurdle of the knockout stage. As Wenger admitted afterward, Arsenal was never in the game. And it followed three straight losses in the English Premier League last month, one short of Arsenal's worst string of results in 16 years. Could the Frenchman be on the way out after 16 years at Arsenal?

"It's very difficult to take the performance we've given tonight," Wenger admitted to Sky Sports. "Defeat can happen sometimes when you play well, but I felt that defensively, especially, offensively and as a unit, we were poor. We were beaten and never in the game. It's a big shock."

Arsenal's defending was almost nonexistent, allowing Kevin Prince Boateng and Robinho to score in the first half, the Brazilian again to make it 3-0 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to finish off the evening with the fourth goal from the penalty spot.

Arsenal created few opportunities of its own until Thierry Henry, playing on loan for the last time before his return to the Red Bulls, entered the game.

"It's a big concern," Wenger said of the defense, "because we were always in trouble with the same problems -- [passes] over the top, slow reading the game, slow to respond, beaten in challenges -- it was a big problem for us the whole night. We have to take our pain and regroup for the next game."

This year's Champions League campaign is effectively over, and Arsenal is only in contention for a berth next season because Chelsea hasn't been playing any better. They are tied for fourth place in the EPL, 10 points behind third-place Tottenham and one ahead of Newcastle.

The Gunners have won three EPL titles and four FA Cup crowns under Wenger, who arrived at Arsenal in 1996, but none since 2005.

If Arsenal doesn't win the FA Cup, where it will host Sunderland in the fifth round on Saturday, it will make seven straight seasons without a title.

ROUND OF 16, FIRST LEG
Feb. 15 in Milan
AC Milan 4 Arsenal 0. Goals: Boateng 15, Robinho 38, 49, Ibrahimovic pen. 79.
AC Milan -- Abbiati, Abate, Thiago Silva, Mexes, Antonini, Van Bommel, Seedorf (Emanuelson 12), Nocerino, Boateng (Ambrosini 70), Ibrahimovic, Robinho (Alexandre Pato 86).
Arsenal -- Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny (Djourou 44), Gibbs (Oxlade-Chamberlain 67), Song, Rosicky, Ramsey, Arteta, van Persie, Walcott (Henry 46).
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary).

Feb. 15 in St. Petersburg
Zenit St. Petersburg 3 Benfica 2. Goals: Shirokov 27, 88, Semak 71; Pereira 20, Cardozo 87
Zenit St. Petersburg -- Zhevnov, Anyukov, Alves, Lombaerts, Hubocan,  Shirokov,  Faizulin (Rosina 89), Zyryanov (Semak 46), Denisov, Kerzhakov, Kanunnikov (Bystrov 66).
Benfica -- Artur, Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Emerson, Bruno Cesar (Nolito 76), Matic, Witsel, Gaitan (Vitor 90); Rodrigo (Aimar 30), Cardozo.
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).

Feb. 14 in Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 3. Goals: Kadlec 52; Sanchez 41, 55, Messi 88.
Bayer Leverkusen -- Leno, Corluka (da Costa 90), Schwaab, Friedrich, Kadlec, Reinartz, Castro, Rolfes (Kiessling 77), Bender, Augusto, Schuerrle (Bellarabi 89).
Barcelona -- Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Abidal, Adriano (Pedro 69), Fabregas, Busquets, Mascherano, Iniesta (Alcantara 61), Sanchez, Messi.
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland).

Feb. 14 in Lyons
Lyon 1 APOEL Nicosia 0. Goal: Lacazette 58.
Lyon -- Lloris, Reveillere, Kone, Cris, Cissokho, Gonalons, Kallstrom, Lacazette (Briand 58), Ederson (Gourcuff 71), Bastos, Lopez.
APOEL -- Chiotis, Poursaitides, Kaka, Paulo Jorge, Boaventura, Nuno Morais, Helio Pinto, Charalambides (Manduca 82), Helder Sousa (Marcinho 72), Trickovski, Ailton (Solari 67).
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy).



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