As London battled to cope with minimal amounts of snow, it was perhaps apt that this was the week in which Arsene Wenger, the great managerial survivor, lost his footing at Arsenal.

The Frenchman, once the master innovator in English football, is wearing the look of yesterday’s man. Whereas until recently the odds were in Wenger’s favour in terms of continuing as manager next season, now he’s a man fighting an uphill battle.

This change in the mood music seems to have taken Wenger himself by surprise. So what has happened? At a time when Manchester City are clearly streets ahead of the rest, while Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea fight for second place, Arsenal are simply not in the conversation – the sixth-best team and by some distance.

For a while, many of us gave Arsenal and Wenger the benefit of the doubt. They could still turn on the style and play football to quicken the pulse, such as in the 5-1 win over Everton in which newcomers Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, the former Dortmund team-mates, excelled.

However, against a higher level of opposition, Arsenal’s softness has been exposed time and again.

I watched them go down 1-0 to North London rivals Tottenham last month but the damage should really have been more substantial. Right now there’s no comparison between Spurs’ overall competence and growth and Arsenal’s wobbly ways. That is a problem for Wenger with no obvious solution.

His team ended up scraping through their Europa League round of 32 tie against Ostersund of Sweden but this is a competition Arsenal need to win if they have designs on Champions League football next season. You would struggle to make a case for them at present and Milan will represent even sterner opposition on Thursday.

But the performance that has attracted the biggest backlash came last Sunday in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City. That critics have turned on Wenger based on a defeat against the best team in the land, has irked the manager, who believes it is entirely possible to be outplayed in a national final by a top-level team.

Arsenal were simply not at the races and lacked hunger and mental fortitude. At no time did they appear to possess the desire to unsettle the Guardiola XI. Meek surrenders have become all too common.

Thursday’s heavy Premier League defeat at City’s hands, once the game had been given the green light, was wrapped in a sense of inevitability.

No leadership, no guile, no backbone in contrast to City’s dynamism.

Stung by it all, Wenger’s argument seems to amount to this: “You can’t criticise me now because I’ve done rather well in the past.” Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to wash with majority shareholder Stan Kroenke given the gap between Arsenal and the current top five.

Wenger, in all likelihood, needs to do what Jose Mourinho did with Manchester United last season and come out on top in the Europa League. Easier said than done when you consider the weaknesses and holes in this Arsenal squad.

Arsenal have been undergoing a revamp anyway. The hiring of Sven Mislintat, previously Dortmund’s talent spotter, was significant and it’s easy to believe the winds of managerial change could blow through the Emirates this summer.

Who might Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Co look at? Carlo Ancelotti is the obvious name. A respected and authoritative figure, he knows the London scene from his time at Chelsea, plus he’s available. Ancelotti didn’t win over too many fans in his spell at Bayern Munich but he has enough credit in the bank to be an attractive alternative to Wenger.

Germany’s successful national team coach, Joachim Löw, has been mentioned but I see this a non-starter. Löw has too much on his plate trying to mastermind his country’s World Cup title defence. Arsenal dare not leave it until late July to bring in a new manager and it’s hard to imagine him juggling two high-profile positions. Also, Löw’s club coaching record is far from stellar.

Others who might fit the bill include Thomas Tuchel, the talented former Mainz and Dortmund coach, whose people skills ultimately let him down in his last post. As a football thinker though, he would give Arsenal fans plenty to be excited about.

Leonardo Jardim of Monaco and Ralph Hasenhuttl of Leipzig both have upsides, advocate attractive football and are being monitored by a number of leading clubs around Europe.

Then there is Brendan Rodgers.

For some odd reason there are many fans in England who are loath to give Rodgers his due. I’ve never been sure why, given his interesting ideas about the game and the overall body of coaching work particularly at Swansea and Liverpool.

Anyone who has studied the Scottish game in the last few years knows you don’t just turn up at Celtic and win everything. Ask Ronny Deila about that. Rodgers has improved the Parkhead club and clearly enjoys his job and its challenges.

But to be quoted for the Arsenal job will not annoy Rodgers. Some day he will want to be back in the upper echelon of the Premier League and he has the backing of a few influential media figures in England who rate him highly.

Funnily enough, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tottenham and not Arsenal, are his future team, if Mauricio Pochettino some day lands his dream job at Real Madrid.

For now, Arsenal must sink or swim with a bruised Wenger. But today’s trip to relegation-threatened Brighton, who will match most teams for work rate and endeavour, is unlikely to be a picnic by the seaside for the Gunners.