LONDON: Just when Arsene Wenger thought life couldn’t get any more stressful, the Arsenal manager finds himself on a hiding to nothing as minnows Lincoln eye more FA Cup history in Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) quarterfinals.
Wenger has endured a week from hell that started when Arsenal were thumped 3-1 at Liverpool following his decision to drop star forward Alexis Sanchez, who reportedly demanded a transfer in an angry row after that loss.
There was worse to come on Tuesday when Arsenal were eliminated from the Champions League in humiliating fashion as Bayern Munich’s 5-1 victory condemned Wenger to his heaviest home defeat since 1998.
Wenger, who has yet to reveal if he will remain in charge next season, has been subjected to vitriolic abuse from Arsenal fans calling for his resignation and the visit of non-league Lincoln hardly promises to be a port in the storm for the beleaguered Frenchman.
With another supporter protest planned for the Emirates Stadium tie, suffering what would be one of the FA Cup’s all-time great upsets would surely be the last straw for Wenger.
“I have worked very hard for 20 years to make our fans happy and when you lose the games, I understand they are not happy,” Wenger said.
“I do not want to judge the protests, I am not able to. I don’t work for my image, I work for this club with full commitment.”
The contrasts between Arsenal’s global reach and tiny Lincoln’s far more humble ambitions make this the ultimate banana skin for Wenger, who has won the FA Cup six times in his 21-year reign.
Danny Cowley’s fifth tier leaders are the first non-league club to reach the last eight in 103 years following a stunning 1-0 victory at Premier League Burnley in the fifth round.
“We understand that the chance is probably one in a thousand, but we will go there with the belief that this can be the one time,” said Cowley, whose squad trained at West Ham on Friday.
“But I would never do the disservice to my players to tell them to wake up on Saturday morning and just enjoy the day. We are professional people, we work every day for this, it is our lives.”