Well, what a season it’s been. Up and down that’s for sure… but I can’t help but feel most Arsenal fans will be thinking what could have been.
Arsene Wenger went out and spent big at the beginning of the season, at the last minute of course. Mesut Ozil was the player who came in for a big money fee. Initially, and for the first four months of the season, the German was first class. After January though, he looked to be tired and short of fitness. This, as has been in the past, was the story of Arsenal’s decade. A short squad, lacking the players needed to make a title challenge.
The first few months, in and around the Emirates, it felt like we supported a different team. The fans were more friendly, the atmosphere was buzzing; people felt like Arsenal could go on and win some trophies this season. We looked like we could do it and Wenger had finally got it right.
Then the injuries started coming, as they usually do. What we need to look at desperately is firstly our team of physios and also the training that Wenger is adopting. It seems to tire out our players and makes it easier for them to pick up injuries during the big games. Think about this, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was missing this year, Mesut Ozil for a lengthy spell, we lost Lukas Podolski for a while; Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky picked up an injury for a short time, Kieron Gibbs picked up his annual niggle too. There were many. Why does this happen to us at all important times of the season?
Into January, the injury to Theo Walcott against Tottenham was the final nail in the coffin. Even though we were top of the league then and flying high, we were short of pace on the flanks, all important in the modern game. Look at any other title chasing team, Liverpool have Raheem Sterling; Chelsea have Schurrle, Salah; Man City have David Silva and Jesus Navas. Arsenal did have Serge Gnabry on the bench, but he didn’t have a go, not really sure why Wenger didn’t put much faith in him. I expect to see Gnabry play a more important role at Arsenal next year. If he’s not guaranteed a chance, then please send him out on loan somewhere Arsene.
Then, everything went downhill into the last 10 games of the season. Psychologically, Arsenal took a battering with the 6-0 defeat against Chelsea. That’s when it was all over. We still continue to show that we can’t compete against the best top teams, that really does hurt. We need to change that if we’re going to compete next year, that means we need a class defensive midfielder, someone like Fernandinho; also a good replacement for Bacary Sagna. We also need to keep Lukas Podolski and think about bringing in yet another striker. We don’t have enough forwards to challenge for the title. I wonder if some of our promising wonderkid’s will have a go next season?
As for the final day for Arsenal, it was a victory and a comfortable one as well. Aaron Ramsey scored a wonderful goal, Marco van Basten-esque in fact. Then Carl Jenkinson also got on the scoresheet as well with an impressive goal. Finding some room in front of goal and spanking home in decent fashion. I wonder if he’ll be brought in to replace Bacary Sagna next year as a straight swap? So very ironic that his first goal for the club comes in Sagna’s last game…
So it’s on to the FA Cup Final against Hull City next week and then it’s job done and on to the World Cup for the majority of our players. We have had a brilliant little spell of form recently, it’s just a shame we couldn’t hold up against the top teams this season and it might’ve been different indeed.
We’ve also got the all important and expected contract signing of Mr. Wenger coming up soon. When will that be announced? How long will he sign for? Is he doing a Sir Alex and will he retire at the end of the season unannounced? Very unlikely, but it is peculiar that Arsene is keeping his cards close to his chest. I expect he’ll sign a two year contract and that he’ll not be spending much money at all this summer. He really doesn’t think he needs to. What he should be doing though is bringing in some experienced heads to join his coaching team. Dennis Bergkamp is doing a wonderful job at Ajax as Frank De Boer’s assistant, how about bringing him onto the coaching team? What about the medical team? Can we bring in some experience from a rival club there? How about the backroom team? In the age of big data, do we have quality people who are analysing our opponents? Can we add some knowledge here… I’m sure most of our rivals do.
Anyway, it’s a final day win and congratulations to Man City. To be honest, of all the teams at the top I was personally happier that City won the league… can you imagine if Liverpool won with that average squad? What about Jose Mourinho with his negatron tactics?
Let’s learn from this season, lift the FA Cup and spend big in the summer. It’s been a mixed season indeed… onward and upward.