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Arsenal look beyond Wenger

ESPN staff
March 25, 2014 « Moyes' mistakes hit him hard | Test Wayin World Cup »
Arsenal get the jitters

Arsene Wenger is expected to be offered a new two-year contract at Arsenal this summer rather than his usual three-year extension, according to the Times.

The manager is believed to have initially been offered a new three-year deal when negotiations began last year.

The move indicates the club are beginning to plan for the long-term future without Wenger, 64, after 18 years and 1000 matches under the Frenchman, though their faith in him remains.

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  • John Cross analyses what the manager known as The professor will be thinking here

The Arsenal board are confident Wenger will sign at the end of the season and there is no requirement on his part to win the FA Cup or finish in the top four of the Premier League.

The Frenchman hinted earlier this season he would only stay at the club if he felt the team were progressing and could challenge for silverware.

After eight years without a trophy, Arsenal are odds-on favourites to land the FA Cup this season with a Wembley semi-final against Championship side Wigan next month and a final against either Hull or Sheffield United awaiting the winner.

However, Saturday's 6-0 thrashing at Chelsea dented Arsenal's Premier League title bid, leaving them seven points off Mourinho's table-toppers, albeit with a game in hand.

Wenger has called on his players to keep the defeat, however painful, in perspective and show their quality with a home victory tonight against Swansea, who have not won in eight matches.

There was some consolation, too, on Monday, when the FA corrected the major mistakes made by referee Andre Marriner in the Chelsea thrashing.

Kieran Gibbs' had his red card cancelled after he was the victim of mistaken identity and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain escaped a ban for handling in the Arsenal penalty area. Both will be available to face Swansea.

"An accident has happened, but that doesn't mean that you're not a good driver," Wenger said. "It just means that we have played about 40 games this season and it's not what happened on Saturday that reflects the quality of this team.

"We have 62 points that we earned hard with quality games and that's what we want to focus on, to get back to that quality. The response has always been very strong and I'm convinced it will be again tomorrow.

"You have to put it into perspective, we just came out of two convincing results at Bayern Munich and at Tottenham with a very solid defensive performance so you have to think that [the Chelsea loss] was an accident.

"How do you deal with the accident? You repair them, you repair the damage and you go for the next one."

Several of Arsenal's players will have left themselves open to criticism, however, after being pictured celebrating the birthday of Mesut Ozil's girlfriend Mandy Capristo after the 6-0 defeat.

Ozil and Nicklas Bendtner - neither of whom featured against Chelsea - were in attendance alongside Bacary Sagna, who played 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge.

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