Arsenal’s recent win against rivals, Manchester United might give us fans something to cheer about, but we are all still bitterly disappointed after the club fell short of winning the league once again.
At one point, they had a fabulous chance of winning the league, but a mixture of a lacklustre offense, weak mentality, poor refereeing and injuries to the squad ended their title hopes.
Before Arsenal took on Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final, the Gunners were alive in all four competitions and were odds on favourites to win the Carling Cup. But a costly error from Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny ended their Carling Cup, and following this defeat Arsenal’s season slowly unravelled.
Since that defeat, Arsenal were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by Barcelona and from the FA Cup by Manchester United. Arsenal were eliminated from the three cup competitions in a matter of two weeks, and just like that, Arsenal’s dreams of an unprecedented quadruple dissolved, and it was just the league that Arsenal had to fight for.
But since that defeat, Arsenal’s league form has been poor to say the least having won just two matches since March, with one against struggling Blackpool and the other against table toppers, Manchester United last week.
In fact, they have won just three matches in all competitions with the third victory against lowly Leyton Orient in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The last two months represent a real disappointment for all Arsenal fans especially after the promise the season once held. At one point, you could have been excused for thinking that a trophy was virtually guaranteed for Arsenal, but Arsenal’s dreams and hopes were put on hold for another season at least.
Following Arsenal’s inability to capture a trophy for the sixth season running, the critics have come down pouring on Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side.
There is hardly denying the fact that Arsenal’s timid departure and elimination from all the competitions have been heart breaking and sorely disappointing, but amidst all the talk about the collapse of Arsenal, people are hardly mentioning the many positives we can take away this season.
While these positives might be no substitute for trophies, they go on to show that the future for Arsenal isn’t as bad as people have stated, and next season could well be promising and highly successful for the Gunners.
At the start of the season, most people expected Arsenal to be involved in the fight for fourth along with teams like Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Liverpool. But Arsenal were not embroiled in the battle for fourth at any point in the season and until the last two weeks were prime contenders in the title race.
The other positives to take away have been the rise of young Jack Wilshere.
While Wilshere was expected to have a breakthrough season, hardly anyone expected him to have such a profound impact on the squad as he has established himself as an indispensable part of this Arsenal squad.
That, along with Aaron Ramsey’s return from injury, means that Arsenal have an immensely talented midfield with plenty of potential to shine in the next few years. And with the impressive Song as a defensive midfielder, Arsenal’s midfield is packed with real talent and potential.
Prior to the start of the season, a major source of concern for Arsenal and their fans were the lack of a quality keeper and a leaky defense with inexperienced players.
Yet to the surprise of many, Arsenal’s defenders have been brilliant for the majority of the season and have gone from strength to strength as the season has progressed. While Manuel Almunia was disappointing as usual, it was the Polish duo of Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski that surprised many with their impressive performances.
Fabianski was considered to be one of the worst keepers in the league by many, but he has shown tremendous mental strength to respond to the immense criticism that came his way and saved Arsenal on about three occasions as he was influential to Arsenal earlier in the season.
But after his injury, it was Szczesny who took up the mantle of being Arsenal’s first choice keeper and has been nothing short of excellent save for that error against Birmingham.
Another huge positive for the Gunners has been the rise of Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou, who have been immense for Arsenal at the back and have produced some sterling performances especially against teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona.
Only three teams have conceded fewer goals than Arsenal this season and all this despite Arsenal’s most experienced defender and defensive leader, Thomas Vermaelen being injured for almost the entire season.
Even Arsenal’s attack has been impressive for large parts, especially the vastly improved duo of Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri who seemed to have benefited hugely from not going to the World Cup. Both have been two of Arsenal’s better players this season with both being prolific in front of goal.
And talking about prolific goalscorers, Robin van Persie has shown that if fit for large parts of the season, he can guarantee 20 goals for the Gunners easily.
Let us not forget that this squad is still fairly young. Players like Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott, Vermaelen, Djourou, Koscielny and Nasri still have plenty of years ahead of them and experiences like this will only aid their development.
Arsenal’s Carling Cup Final was the first final for many of Arsenal’s players, and while it might have ended in a losing cause, there is no doubt that it will help in their future progress. Next season these players will be back with more experience which will only aid Arsenal’s push for titles.
Arsenal’s critics might state that this excuse has been repeated for quite some time now, but even some of the greats in world football achieved success only later. The likes of Carles Puyol, who won his first trophy aged 26, is a perfect example of this.
But while there have been plenty of positives, something still seems to be missing from this Arsenal squad, and Wenger’s recent interviews and press conferences have indicated that he too has understood the deficiencies in the squad. He has stated that he has a considerable transfer kitty for bolstering the squad in the summer, and it looks like he will make full use of this.
All this means that there will be some transfers in and out of the club and we Arsenal fans can brace ourselves for an interesting summer.
Dominating the transfer news will definitely be talk about the transfer of Arsenal’s captain, Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. In every summer, the talk about the long drawn Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona saga intensifies, and this season we could see some definite news on the future of the former La Masia product.
If he does stay, then great for Arsenal as they will mostly be retaining most of their stars, and if he goes, Wenger will be able to use the cash to strengthen the squad and sign proper replacements in key positions.
So with a solid defense that will once again feature Thomas Vermaelen, a hugely talented midfield and with Arsenal’s attack remaining as promising as ever, the Gunners can once again launch a surge toward winning trophies.
But every season Arsenal manage to launch a move toward trophies but always struggle to cross the final step and end up going home empty handed.
But next season could prove to be different. There are plenty of reasons for this. One is the presence of solid defense and a dependable goalkeeper, something the Gunners have not had in quite some time now.
This ensures that all Arsenal require is around one transfer in the defensive department at the moment. For a change, Wenger is not facing the customary headache regarding his defense.
The second reason to be excited heading into next season is Wenger. Not only do Arsenal have one of the best managers in the world in Wenger, but for a change, he is under massive pressure to win trophies.
The frustration has been rising over Arsenal inability to win a trophy for six seasons now, and never in his 15-year tenure as the Gunners’ boss as the Frenchman faced so much pressure to deliver the goods.
This is one of the main reasons why Wenger has agreed to spend, and he too has slowly started to understand the deficiencies in his squad and is looking to plug the gaps.
Arsenal fans have been living in disappointment for the last six seasons now and ahead of every season there is always plenty of expectations but for quite some time they have failed to deliver.
But Arsenal’s admirable performances this season have laid a strong foundation for Arsenal to end their trophy drought next season. This season’s performances brought Arsenal extremely close to winning a trophy, and the disappointment of failing and the experience gained from their failures can act as a launch pad for the Gunners to catapult to glory next season