Arsenal closed in on another season of Champions League football with a 1-0 win over strugglers Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday but it was another uncomfortable evening for manager Arsene Wenger amid protests from fans.
Arsenal moved into third place thanks to a Danny Welbeck goal but it did not stop the discontent inside and outside the Emirates Stadium from supporters grumbling about perceived under-achievement in Wenger’s long reign.
Yet the Gunners’ fans cannot have been as miserable as supporters of visiting Norwich, whose side were plunged into even deeper trouble amid the dog-fight at the foot of the table.
They were the only one of the three relegation candidates to endure a pointless afternoon, with Newcastle United beating Crystal Palace 1-0 and Sunderland rescuing a point with a last-gasp penalty from Jermain Defoe in a 1-1 draw at Stoke City.
At Arsenal, there was division between supporters, some of whom held up posters with the message ‘Time for a change’, after 12 minutes and 12 minutes from time, to mark the dozen years that they have failed to win the league.
Yet others sang “There’s only one Arsene Wenger” before Welbeck, introduced as a second-half substitute, scored within four minutes to earn Arsenal a key victory.
“We were warned about the protesters,” Wenger said. “You want to make the fans happy. I’m sorry if I don’t achieve it. I’m irritated and frustrated if I cannot keep people happy.
“I have respect for the club and gave so much for the club. I want to make people happy.”
The win puts Arsenal third in the table, three points clear of Manchester City, who will leapfrog them on goal difference if they win at Southampton on Sunday. City entertain Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium next weekend.