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Mohamed Elneny injury 'does not look good' - Arsene Wenger

Mohamed Elneny injury 'does not look good' - Arsene Wenger


LONDON -- It was a strange day at the Emirates. It certainly did not feel like the start of a celebratory long goodbye for Arsene Wenger, but at least we knew by the end the reason why the Frenchman's departure as manager at the end of the season is laced with apathy and acrimony in equal measure.

When Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as Manchester United manager in May 2013, Old Trafford was awash with colour and emotion (and plenty of tears too) when Swansea City were the visitors for the game immediately after the confirmation of his decision to step down.

Similarly, when Steven Gerrard played his final game at Anfield for Liverpool against Crystal Palace two years later, the club's legendary captain was given the full treatment from the Kop as he milked every last moment in a red shirt.

Wenger was surely going to get that, too, after telling the world on Friday morning that this season would his last in charge of Arsenal after 22 years?

Yes, there have been more downs than ups in recent years, the odd family squabble among supporters and a growing belief that he had outstayed his welcome. But then there were the good times: the three Premier League titles, the seven FA Cups and, of course, the "Invincibles" of 2003-04. Yet walking towards the stadium for Arsenal's clash with West Ham at the Emirates on Sunday morning was a disconcerting experience, and the first hint of what was to come.

There was no fanfare, no groups of supporters with banners, no singing of Wenger's name. No sense of fans getting there early to experience a seminal day in the club's history. It was just another Sunday morning in North London and it was weird.

Inside the ground would be different, wouldn't it? Well, as Wenger emerged to take his place in the dugout prior to kick-off, there was only polite applause from those Arsenal fans who had bothered to turn up on time. There were still vast swathes of empty seats.

Having sat quietly through a drab 0-0 first half and watched as their team went ahead, were pegged back, and then sauntered to a win with three late goals, it was not until Arsenal were 4-1 up that the Emirates finally reverberated to a loud rendition of "There's only one Arsene Wenger."

It was as though the supporters, angry with their manager for staying on too long, were only prepared to sing his name once their desire for entertainment and victory had been satisfied.

But the spectacle highlighted the rift that has developed between the Arsenal supporters and the manager they once idolised.

And if that rift was in any doubt, Wenger made it perfectly clear after the game that the relationship between him and the fans was beyond repair. This has become a football divorce between two parties with irreconcilable differences.

"I was not tired," Wenger said, when asked if he was relieved that his future at the club was no longer a subject of speculation. "I believe that this club is respected all over the world, much more than in England, and our fans didn't give the image of unity I want at the club. That was hurtful. I feel the club is respected. The image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like." 

So there you have it. The disunity at the Emirates, with him as the focus of the disharmony, was a central factor in Wenger's decision to step down.

"I feel that this club has a fantastic image and for me that is absolutely vital," he added. "We can speak and speak and speak, but sport is about winning and losing and you have to accept that you will lose games when I am not here anymore.

"I'm not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines. I am not resentful with the fans. I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club should be, for me that is more important than me."

Considering the success he has brought to Arsenal and the development he has overseen on and off the pitch, there is a real sadness to the way that this is all ending for Wenger.

But he still has six games remaining -- seven, if Arsenal can overcome Atletico Madrid and book a place in next month's Europa League final in Lyon -- and Sunday needed to be about clearing the air rather than widening the rift.

Wenger is right to cite the damage caused by the disunity, but those supporters who have turned on their manager in recent seasons have done so because they have the club's best interests at heart. They both have legitimate grievances, but the time has now come to focus on the good and attempt to end the season, and Wenger's reign, on a high.

When Atletico visit the Emirates for the Europa League semifinal first-leg on Thursday, the stadium has to be livelier and more celebratory than it was against West Ham.

Both Wenger and the fans have made their point, but there is a bigger picture to take into consideration. If Wenger is to get the send-off he truly deserves and if Arsenal are to end their season with a European trophy, both fans and manager must pull together for the rest of the season.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

Manchester City have wrapped up the Premier League title with a month to spare, courtesy of Manchester United's shock home defeat to basement boys West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

It's the first thing to be decided this season, but there's still lots to play for in the remaining weeks. Here, we take a look at the outstanding issues.

Who qualifies: Positions 1-4 (group stage)Who's in already: Manchester CityWho's still in contention: Manchester United (74), Liverpool (71), Tottenham Hotspur (68), Chelsea (63)

A change to the Champions League access rules from next season means the top four teams in the Premier League will go straight into the group stage. No longer does the fourth-placed team have to negotiate a qualifying playoff.

United and Liverpool have a huge advantage over Chelsea, who can get a maximum of 75 points from their remaining four games.

But Tottenham's draw at Brighton on Monday, coupled with Chelsea's win at Burnley, leaves the gap between those two sides at five. Maybe, just maybe, the Blues have a sniff of overtaking one of their arch rivals. Chelsea also have to face Liverpool too, so the Reds better not get too complacent.

United need just two points from their remaining games to be assured of Champions League football following their win at Bournemouth.

Arsenal (57) are still mathematically in contention, but it's no more than that. However, the Gunners could slip in through the backdoor if they win the Europa League, though they must get past favourites Atletico Madrid in the semifinals first. If Arsenal do win the Europa League, then England would have five teams in the Champions League and two in the Europa, just as with this season after Manchester United's success last year.

Who qualifies: FA Cup winners*, 5th place (group stage); 6th place (second qualifying round)Who's still in contention: Chelsea (63), Arsenal (57), Burnley (53), Leicester (44)

With Man City winning the Carabao Cup, it means that sixth place will now enter in the second qualifying round. However, there is still some uncertainty here as that place will go to seventh (with sixth direct to the group stage) unless Southampton win the FA Cup.

That's because the other three teams left in the FA Cup (Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham) will have already qualified for Europe via the league, and with the FA Cup runners-up no longer able to take a Europa League place it would transfer to the Premier League.

Chelsea are odds-on to take the automatic place in the group stage (if they do not catch the top four) by finishing fifth, but the battle for sixth and seventh between Arsenal and Burnley could go down to the wire. There's currently just two points between the clubs, though Arsenal have a game in hand after Burnley's loss to Chelsea. Arsenal have a big goal difference advantage too, but they are the only club not to pick up a single point away from home in 2018.

Remaining games:Arsenal: West Ham, Man United, Burnley, Leicester, HuddersfieldBurnley: Stoke, Brighton, Arsenal, Bournemouth

It could yet come down to the meeting between the two sides at the Emirates on the penultimate weekend.

No one will want to be thrown in at the qualifying stage, however, as a change in rules for next season means a Premier League team will start out a round earlier. And that means a European campaign beginning on July 26 -- 11 days after the World Cup final.

Leicester are the only team with any kind of outside chance of snatching seventh with an amazing run of form, but their failure to beat Southampton makes it very unlikely.

Who goes down: Positions 18-20Who's still in contention: WBA (25), Stoke (29), Southampton (29), Swansea (33), Crystal Palace (35), Huddersfield (35), West Ham (35), Brighton (36)Just about safe: Watford (38), Bournemouth (38)

West Brom gave themselves at least some hope with the 1-0 victory at Man United and 2-2 draw against Liverpool, but they remain eight points adrift of safety with only nine left to play for and are doomed.

Stoke's failure to hold on to their 1-0 leads at West Ham and Burnley leaves them in deep trouble. They are now five points adrift with three games left and the worst goal difference in the division, plus they have not won since Paul Lambert's first game in charge on Jan. 20. The Potters go to Liverpool next and could already be down before they finish up against relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Swansea.

Southampton failed to make their most of their game in hand by drawing 0-0 with Leicester, so are now four points adrift with only four games to go. Upcoming fixtures against Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea should be viewed as winnable, but they won't want to be needing points on the final day when they host champions Manchester City.

The five teams directly outside the drop zone will probably feel 38 points will see them safe. Swansea have Man City and Chelsea up next, though they have shown great resilience to beat some of the Premier League's top sides since Carlos Carvalhal took charge. Finishing up against Bournemouth, Southampton and Stoke means their fate is very much in their own hands against the teams in 18th and 19th.

Palace have a very favourable run-in, with Leicester, Stoke and West Brom to play.

The same cannot be said of the remaining three teams, who have very difficult run-ins -- and have to hope they can find the one win they probably need. Brighton got a point against Spurs, and they are now almost over the line but have four very hard fixtures remaining. West Ham:  Man City, Leicester, Man United, Everton.Huddersfield: Everton, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal.Brighton: Burnley, Man United, Man City, Liverpool 

Who goes up: Position 1-2, plus one of 3-6 via playoffsWho's already up: Wolverhampton Wanderers (95)Who's battling for second: Cardiff (83), Fulham (82), Aston Villa (79)Who else can make the playoffs: Middlesbrough (69), Millwall (69), Derby (68), Preston (66), Sheffield United (66), Brentford (65), Bristol City (65)

Wolves have won promotion back to the Premier League at a canter, while Cardiff are in pole position for second having a one-point advantage over Fulham with a game in hand. It would be a miracle if Villa missed the playoffs now.

It's then an almighty scramble for the two remaining playoff places, with just four points separating seven teams. 

Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.

LONDON -- Arsene Wenger says Mohamed Elneny's ankle injury "doesn't look too good" but that it is too soon know if it will threaten his World Cup chances with Egypt.

Elneny was carried off on a stretcher during Sunday's 4-1 Premier League win against West Ham, less than two months before he is due at the World Cup with Egypt.

"Unfortunately it doesn't look too good," Wenger said. "He has an X-ray, but I don't know how bad it is. But it doesn't look too good."

Elneny, who was initially suspended for this game before having a red card from Arsenal's last home game against Southampton overturned, had his ankle in a boot as he was carried off and looked to be in serious pain.

The Egyptian could face a race against time to be fit for the World Cup. He is one of Egypt's key players, having started all six of their World Cup qualifiers and 11 of their 14 full internationals in 2017.

Egypt qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1990 and open their Group A campaign on June 15 against Uruguay.

Arsenal will have more immediate concerns about Elneny's fitness with the first leg of their Europa League semifinal against Atletico Madrid on Thursday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.