Premier League Shake-up: Arsène Wenger Warns The ‘Big 4’ Era Is Over

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has a warning for Premier League fans and teams alike: Brace yourselves! As reported by the Guardian and ESPN, Wenger predicts the age of an “elite few” winning the Premier League title every year might be over.

For some observers, this opinion may be little more than stating the obvious following one of the most unusual Premier League seasons to date.

Consider the fact that Chelsea FC, a team that handily won the league just last season, is currently sitting in 9th place. Poor results in their final two games could sink this elite London club into the lower half of the Premier League table. Such an outcome would have been laughable just several months ago. Adding insult to injury: Chelsea will have to face both Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC as its final two opponents.

Leicester City is a team that barely avoided relegation last year. This year, it stunned the Premiere League and the world by turning the entire sport on its collective ear. Leicester’s miraculous season saw the team utterly dominate the “old guard, winning the league before the 2015-16 season even ended.”

The Chelsea vs. Leicester match up will give Leicester’s players the opportunity to rub their new status directly in the faces of last year’s champions in person.

As for Liverpool, it’s a team with the unique opportunity to win a European title and earn a place in the Champions League despite not finishing in the coveted Top 4 this year.

It’s a turn of events few saw coming, notwithstanding the change in rules by the UEFA. Should Liverpool beat Sevilla in the Europa League final, they will have a spot in the Champions League next year. Meanwhile, Chelsea has no such opportunity. It will miss European competition completely next season.

These two clubs are in positions so unique and unexpected that it’s understandable why Arsene Wenger is moved to declare the sport as England knows it to be on the verge of something new — and for some teams, something quite terrifying.

Look no further than Wenger’s own backyard. Riled-up Arsenal fans are demanding in louder voices than ever that Wenger should be replaced by a more ambitious coach. Arsène’s apparent lack of ambition beyond a Top 4 finish is so synonymous with his character that it was quoted by the Guardian.

“Arsène Wenger…prides himself on the consistency Arsenal show in finishing in the top four throughout his two decades at the club.”

That’s an incredible thing to say about a man who’s been a coach for a top Premier League team for about 20 years. Most managers can boast winning seasons and multiple trophies. Wenger’s claim to fame isn’t winning; it’s enduring. Yet the shake-up may, at last, have forced the longtime Premier League coach to acknowledge that the idea of playing for a position is no longer ideal or practical.

If a team like Leicester can have a break-out season, what’s to stop other teams from achieving the same? The answer works both for and against Arsenal. Should Arsène move to become a more competitive manager, refusing to allow complacency, it may inspire Arsenal to do something hasn’t done in many years: Win the Premier League.

Arsenal’s lack of ambition could also lead a smaller but determined club to knock the team out of European contention altogether. With Chelsea falling as far as it did, nothing is impossible. Perhaps that’s why Arsenal fans are beginning to panic so visibly. Watching Chelsea fall (and Tottenham Hotspurs rise above them) may be making it clear that Arsenal’s luck may be up.

With Arsène Wenger seemingly acknowledging that change is in the air, it might be a sign that he’s ready to aim higher than a fourth-place position at long last. He’ll have to. With the rise of Leicester City and potential revival of Liverpool, the door is open for other Premier League teams to race ahead.

If Arsenal doesn’t make the move from complacent placeholder to genuine title contenders, it could be joining Chelsea in purgatory.

[Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images]