Fans right to turn backs on Wenger
Frenchman can no longer think he is answerable to nobody but himself
(Alexis Sanchez 6, 38)
WEST BROM 0
Not for the first time at the Emirates Stadium, all was not as it seemed.
Attendance figures had claimed that a near-capacity crowd took in another comfortable Arsenal victory yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The swathes of red seats dotted around suggested that the reality was far, far more damning.
Arsene Wenger's detractors are officially no longer confined to a dissenting minority.
Not since he took up residence in north London 20 years ago has the 66-year-old faced a challenge of this magnitude.
This is no longer mere outpourings of fair-weather frustration; it is a chasm which has festered with each season of continued shortcomings that passes.
More than the supposed 864 people shy of a full house decided to vote with their feet during the visit of West Brom. Plenty would argue that it is not before time.
Trophies, or rather the lack of them, often seal a manager's fate.
But the current bone of contention with Wenger is not confined to the dearth of silverware alone.
Sooner or later, he was always going to have to face up to his current record in the Arsenal hot seat.
In possibly the most open title race in English Premier League history, a first title in over 12 years beckoned.
True to form, however, the Gunners crashed and burnt once more.
Leicester City's remarkable surge to the title this season, closely followed by Arsenal's arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur, has further exposed Wenger's domestic deficiencies.
Trumpeting a "record" of top-four EPL finishes has worn thin.
The non-event of seeing off a lesser team like West Brom in the twilight of another uneventful season, which culminated in another title shortfall before April and a Champions League exit in the Round of 16, is the final straw for many.
Shortly after their move to the Emirates, Arsenal undertook a phase of "Arsenalisation" - an attempt to make their new surroundings more amenable to supporters unseated from the comfort and history of their former Highbury home.
Yet the stadium itself is a symbol of everything that has gone wrong in Wenger's tenure.
Its building forced him to compromise Arsenal's financial structure for on-field affairs; its operation has been associated with the club's current wilderness.
If the first sign of recovery is admitting that you have a problem, Wenger is in desperate need of an intervention to save his Arsenal tenure.
Change appears beyond a man who prides himself on evolution and adaptability.
Last summer, when their EPL title assault was being planned, he resisted the temptation to invest in anyone beyond the marquee signing of Petr Cech.
In the months that followed, through a combination of injuries and on-field ineptitude, it came home to roost.
Wenger may remain unsackable, largely on account of his close relationship with Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, but he is now no longer untouchable; previously answerable to nobody other than himself.
Players, directors and even stadiums - the Frenchman has outlasted them all.
But the current, unprecedented show of disaffection from supporters has disarmed his previously unassailable authority.
Many tears are unlikely to be shed if his current contract is not extended beyond next season.
"I think you see quality football (here)... I don’t know if you are intelligent enough, nor am I, to detect exactly why everybody that did not turn up tonight did not turn up."
— Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger