English Premier League

Arsene Wenger will be praying for an unexpected slip from Liverpool or Manchester City

Rocked by Arsenal’s failure to live up to his expectations and battered by mounting criticism from furious fans, Wenger has been under fire like never before.

Arsene Wenger will be praying for an unexpected slip from Liverpool or Manchester City as Arsenal try to salvage their traumatic Premier League campaign by snatching a Champions League berth in Sunday’s season finale.

Rocked by Arsenal’s failure to live up to his expectations and battered by mounting criticism from furious fans, Wenger has been under fire like never before in his 21-year reign – and the lowest moment of all is likely to come at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

As if finishing below arch rivals Tottenham for the first time in 22 years wasn’t bad enough, Wenger’s bid to lead Arsenal into the Champions League for a 20th successive season is in grave danger heading into their last league game against Everton.

With the title race settled in Chelsea’s favour, Tottenham guaranteed to finish second and the three relegation places filled by Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull, it is the battle for the lucrative remaining two places in Europe’s elite club competition that will command the attention on Sunday.

Despite winning six of their last seven games, Arsenal are in fifth place, one point behind fourth placed Liverpool and three adrift of third placed City.

If Liverpool beat relegated Middlesbrough at Anfield and City avoid defeat at struggling Watford, then, even if Arsenal win, Wenger’s side will be consigned to the indignity of Thursday nights in the unglamourous Europa League next term.

Having refused to confirm if he will accept Arsenal’s offer of a new contract, Wenger this week said his will be settled when he meets the club’s powerbrokers after the Gunners’ FA Cup final date with Chelsea on May 27.

Reports suggest Wenger is planning to stay and if that is the case the 67-year-old could do with boosting his plunging approval ratings by somehow gate-crashing the Champions League party.

Asked on Friday if the Everton clash will be his last game in charge of Arsenal at the Emirates, he gave a sarcastic response.

“Of the season...yes,” he said. “I think what is the most important for us is to win the football game we play on Sunday.

“After that, what happens to me is less important. I’m here to serve the club and the best way to do that is to win the next game.”

Meanwhile, a fourth successive City victory will see them hold on to third place and go straight into next season’s Champions League, while a draw would also be enough to ensure a top four finish.

‘In our hands’

However, City could still miss out altogether if they lose, Liverpool defeat Middlesbrough and Arsenal improve their goal difference by at least five in the process of beating Everton.

Calling for one last push after an underwhelming first season in charge, City boss Pep Guardiola said: “We still have 95, 96 minutes to fight to do one thing that’s so important for the club and the future.

“It’s a crucial game for us. It’s a final. Every game has pressure, but it’s in our hands.

“It doesn’t depend on Arsenal or Liverpool. It depends on us. We have to go there and win the game.”

Liverpool will compete in the Champions League for the first time since 2014-15, and only the second time in eight years, as long as they match Arsenal’s result.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is well aware the subsequent boost to Liverpool’s profile would be a major help in signing his top transfer targets.

“The Champions League, for different reasons, is a wonderful competition. It would be the icing on the cake,” Klopp said.

“It is important for players because that is what they want to play in.

“We will be successful in the future but for this we need the players, of course. We have very good players and we need a few more.”

Already certain to finish sixth, Manchester United will send out a team largely comprised of youth team players as boss Jose Mourinho keeps his senior stars fresh for next week’s Europa League final against Ajax.

If United win the Europa League they will claim a place in the Champions League, giving Mourinho the last laugh while his old rival Wenger faces a troubled future.

Fixtures (all 1400 GMT)

Arsenal v Everton, Burnley v West Ham, Chelsea v Sunderland, Hull v Tottenham, Leicester v Bournemouth, Liverpool v Middlesbrough, Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Southampton v Stoke, Swansea v West Brom, Watford v Manchester City

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The perpetual millennial quest for self-expression just got another boost

Making adulting in the new millennium easier, one step at a time.

Having come of age in the Age of the Internet, millennials had a rocky start to self-expression. Indeed, the internet allowed us to personalise things in unprecedented fashion and we really rose to the occasion. The learning curve to a straightforward firstname.surname@___mail.com email address was a long one, routed through cringeworthy e-mail ids like coolgal1234@hotmail.com. You know you had one - making a personalised e-mail id was a rite of passage for millennials after all.

Declaring yourself to be cool, a star, a princess or a hunk boy was a given (for how else would the world know?!). Those with eclectic tastes (read: juvenile groupies) would flaunt their artistic preferences with an elitist flair. You could take for granted that bitbybeatlemania@hotmail.com and hpfan@yahoo.com would listen to Bollywood music or read Archie comics only in private. The emo kids, meanwhile, had to learn the hard way that employers probably don’t trust candidates with e-mail ids such as depressingdystopian@gmail.com.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

And with chat rooms, early millennials had found a way to communicate, with...interesting results. The oldest crop of millennials (30+ year olds) learnt to deal with the realities of adolescent life hunched behind anonymous accounts, spewing their teenage hormone-laden angst, passion and idealism to other anonymous accounts. Skater_chick could hide her ineptitude for skating behind a convincing username and a skateboard-peddling red-haired avatar, and you could declare your fantasies of world domination, armed with the assurance that no one would take you seriously.

With the rise of blogging, millennial individualism found a way to express itself to millions of people across the world. The verbosity of ‘intellectual’ millennials even shone through in their blog URLs and names. GirlWhoTravels could now opine on her adventures on the road to those who actually cared about such things. The blogger behind scentofpetunia.blogspot.com could choose to totally ignore petunias and no one would question why. It’s a tradition still being staunchly upheld on Tumblr. You’re not really a Tumblr(er?) if you haven’t been inspired to test your creative limits while crafting your blog URL. Fantasy literature and anime fandoms to pop-culture fanatics and pizza lovers- it’s where people of all leanings go to let their alter ego thrive.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Then of course social media became the new front of self-expression on the Internet. Back when social media was too much of a millennial thing for anyone to meddle with, avatars and usernames were a window into your personality and fantasies. Suddenly, it was cool to post emo quotes of Meredith Grey on Facebook and update the world on the picturesque breakfast you had (or not). Twitter upped the pressure by limiting expression to 140 characters (now 280-have you heard?) and the brevity translated to the Twitter handles as well. The trend of sarcasm-and-wit-laden handles is still alive well and has only gotten more sophisticated with time. The blogging platform Medium makes the best of Twitter intellect in longform. It’s here that even businesses have cool account names!

Self-expression on the Internet and the millennials’ love for the personalised and customised has indeed seen an interesting trajectory. Most millennial adolescents of yore though are now grownups, navigating an adulting crisis of mammoth proportions. How to wake up in time for classes, how to keep the boss happy, how to keep from going broke every month, how to deal with the new F-word – Finances! Don’t judge, finances can be stressful at the beginning of a career. Forget investments, loans and debts, even matters of simple money transactions are riddled with scary terms like beneficiaries, NEFT, IMPS, RTGS and more. Then there’s the quadruple checking to make sure you input the correct card, IFSC or account number. If this wasn’t stressful enough, there’s the long wait while the cheque is cleared or the fund transfer is credited. Doesn’t it make you wish there was a simpler way to deal with it all? If life could just be like…

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Lo and behold, millennial prayers have been heard! Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first, has now integrated UPI on its digital platform, making banking over the phone easier than ever. Airtel Payments Bank UPI, or Unified Payment Interface, allows you to transfer funds and shop and pay bills instantly to anyone any time without the hassles of inputting any bank details – all through a unique Virtual Payment Address. In true millennial fashion, you can even create your own personalised UPI ID or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) with your name or number- like rhea@airtel or 9990011122@airtel. It’s the smartest, easiest and coolest way to pay, frankly, because you’re going to be the first person to actually make instant, costless payments, rather than claiming to do that and making people wait for hours.

To make life even simpler, with the My Airtel app, you can make digital payments both online and offline (using the Scan and Pay feature that uses a UPI QR code). Imagine, no more running to the ATM at the last minute when you accidentally opt for COD or don’t have exact change to pay for a cab or coffee! Opening an account takes less than three minutes and remembering your VPA requires you to literally remember your own name. Get started with a more customised banking experience here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel Payments Bank and not by the Scroll editorial team.