Wenger's farewell starts with late victory

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Arsene Wenger saw Arsenal claim a 4-1 victory over West Ham United yesterday in his first game since announcing his 22-year managerial reign will finish at the end of the season.
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ARSENE Wenger saw Arsenal claim a 4-1 victory over West Ham United yesterday in his first game since announcing his 22-year managerial reign will finish at the end of the season.

That Arsenal remains sixth in the English Premier League is why support for Wenger has drained among the north London club’s fan base.

When Wenger stepped onto the pitch at the Emirates before kickoff there was no acknowledgment of the 68-year-old Frenchman from the stadium announcer. And fans only chanted about the only manager of the club many have ever known in response to taunts from West Ham supporters.

It was a tepid first half from Arsenal, showing just why the team is 30 points behind newly crowned champion Manchester City.

The hosts only came to life in the second half. But even after Nacho Monreal netted in the 51st minute, West Ham pulled level through Marko Arnautovic. The win was only secured with a flurry of goals in the last 10 minutes, with Aaron Ramsey’s strike followed by Alexandre Lacazette’s double.

Arsenal’s priority is the Europa League, with the semifinal first leg against Atletico Madrid on Thursday. It’s the only realistic path into the UEFA Champions League and the final in Lyon can provide Wenger with the perfect send-off. “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,” Wenger said in his program notes.

Wenger announced on Friday that he had decided to step down next month. But Arsenal’s leadership has sidestepped questions about whether the decision was because they didn’t want Wenger, a three-time EPL winner with Arsenal, to complete the final year of his contract.

Defeat leaves West Ham still 7 points above the relegation zone, but its chances of survival were boosted as Stoke City failed to beat visiting Burnley in a 1-1 draw to remain 4 points off safety.

Badou Ndiaye had given the hosts the lead but Ashley Barnes’s leveller just after the hour mark means Paul Lambert’s men need to win at least two of their remaining three fixtures to have any chance of beating the drop.


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