Arsene Wenger

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger continue to come under immense criticism after the club's defeat on penalties to League Two side Bradford City this week.

The lower-league side's shock victory has left the Emirates club with a mountain to climb for the rest of the season, and the war of words between an increasingly hostile fan base and the club's administration, including Wenger, is becoming increasingly acrimonious.

The 63-year-old Frenchman has received the backing of the club's owner, Stan Kroenke, and it is reported that the American will back his words with a £50m January transfer budget, giving Wenger chance to revamp the squad and drag the season back on track.

However Wenger's transfer policy has always been based on attracting young, promising players rather than experienced world-class talent, and thus many fans are sceptical that he will spend big money on established stars in the mid-season window.

TalkSport is reporting that Wenger are interested in signing 17-year-old Real Madrid striker Jese Rodriguez. While the teenager has potential and is being reportedly watched by first-team coach Jose Mourinho, he is unlikely to provide an instant solution to the chronic problems which threaten to wreck Arsenal's season.

Another rumoured target is 35-year-old former striker Thierry Henry. While the French international is a Gunners legend, he lacks the searing pace which made him one of the world's deadliest strikers in his prime, and has been playing out the twilight of his career in America, where the standard remains light years behind the Premier League.

Unhappy Gazidis

Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis (R)

Meanwhile, it appears Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis is beginning to tire of his club's lack of progress. The South Africa-born businessman was quoted by the Mail as apologising to the club's Supporters Trust in an unusually emotional speech after the Bradford game.

Gazidis told fans: "I am frankly tired of getting up here and delivering the same message. Last night was not good enough and it made us all upset and angry. I would like to apologise to all of you, especially the fans who travelled up there. It was unbelievable support, as ever, and you deserved better.

"We all work here and are desperate to deliver the success and trophies we all want. Look into the eyes of the staff here, look at the way they talk. We will get this right. That is something we will work hard to put right."

Gazidis made similar comments in early November, when reporting on the club's improved financial situation. He warned supporters trophies would take two to three years more to come, but his latest comments seem far more direct. The fact he is so clearly annoyed about "delivering the same message" suggests he sees a lack of progress towards the club's long-term sporting goals.

Wenger-Bould Rift

As if Wenger didn't have enough problems, there are reports of a breakdown in the relationship between Wenger and the club's defensive coach, Steve Bould. The 50-year-old ex-defender played for the Gunners between 1988 and 1999, winning three league titles and two FA Cups in that spell.

He was appointed to oversee the club's defensive play in the summer and initial results were encouraging, with three clean sheets in the first three games of the season. Since then, however, Arsenal have managed only four clean sheets and have conceded 31 goals.

Steve Bould

"There does not seem to be much communication between the two. It is a shame because all the players are behind Wenger despite the results but equally, they all respect Bould. Things are strained," a club source was quoted in The Sun.

"Bould worked with the defence before the start of the season but he has not done too many sessions since. Wenger remains in complete control over everything."

Robson's Rant

The notion Wenger is "in complete control" was repeated by another former player, Stewart Robson. The 48-year-old midfielder, who made nearly 200 appearances for the club, branded Wenger a "dictator".

"In my view, his time was up three or four years ago. He has got a massive ego because he's a dictator when it comes to Arsenal. And he's not allowing Steve Bould to do any work. He's actually putting players backwards now," Robson explained, adding:

"It's no coincidence that when Cesc Fabregas goes to Barcelona, he says he is now learning about the tactics of the game."

Wenger's Future

Wenger's contract runs till 2014. The Frenchman was offered an extension earlier in the season, with Gazidis himself quoted as saying he was "the best man for the job". The offer was never taken up, with the manager claiming he wanted to focus on the football and improving the fortunes of the club. 

The situation seemed to worsen after the home defeat to Swansea City, in the Premier League, but Wenger remained defiant, insisting he would see out the season with the club before taking any decision.

With recent reports linking Wenger with a return to France and a post at Paris St Germain, many believe the Wenger-era at the Emirates is finally about to come to an end. If the parting of the ways is night, it is only unfortunate the end had to be as acrimonious as this.