Arsenal fan groups protesting against the reign of Arsene Wenger made an eye-catching show of dissent ahead of the north London derby.
The Gunners travel to face local rivals Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday and late on Friday night, huge “Wenger Out” slogans were beamed onto the club’s Emirates Stadium.
Similar images were also projected onto the facade of Arsenal’s former home Highbury and Marble Arch in central London.
Wenger has refused to disclose whether he will extend his Arsenal reign into a 22nd season after his contract expires at the end of the campaign. A poor run of form after the turn of the year brought protests against the veteran Frenchman to their most vocal and visible level – tensions having simmered for a few years.
Arsenal head into the derby on the back of three consecutive wins, including an extra-time triumph over Manchester City at Wembley last weekend to book a place in the FA Cup final, but this upturn appears to have done little to win over a committed group of naysayers, the outspoken online channel Arsenal Fan TV posting images of the protests on Twitter.
Arsenal fans beamed ‘Wenger Out’ on Highbury tonight. pic.twitter.com/e7Erd2x3pr
— ArsenalFanTV (@ArsenalFanTV) April 28, 2017
Following a chastening 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, Wenger made an unexpected switch to a 3-4-3 formation – an alteration he pondered earlier in the season and one he settled upon to give his ailing team greater defensive stability.
“In fairness I wanted to do it a month-and-a-half ago, but I thought no, maybe we shouldn’t destroy the way we have played before, because we were 20 games unbeaten,” he told Sky Sports.
“When the confidence becomes fragile, sometimes just to focus on something different is important.
“At the moment it looks like it gets the best out of every player. It’s not a new system because I played it 20, 30 years ago.
“But it’s a system that sometimes brings some reassurance when the defensive confidence is not at the best.”
Sunday’s game will be the last between Tottenham and Arsenal at the current White Hart Lane after Spurs confirmed they will play their home matches at Wembley next season while a new 61,000-seater stadium is completed in time for 2018-19.
It will mean one more time on the wrong end of local hostilities at the venue for Wenger, who concedes Tottenham’s compact home can whip up a fervent din on derby day.
“I personally won’t miss it but what I like is the atmosphere,” he told newspaper reporters. “What makes English football special is the fact that the fans live the game.
“For me, there’s two kinds of supporters, the supporters you get in some foreign countries who sing the same song during the whole game, or some different songs but not linked with the game. In England, the fans live the game every ball.
“When there’s a corner the sound goes up. When there’s a foul the sound goes up and that makes English football special and completely apart from everywhere else.”