As usual with Arsenal, half the Premier League club’s supporters see the glass being half full while the rest view it as half empty. It just depends if you’re wearing rose-coloured glasses or not. Yes, the Gunners have managed to finish the season in the top four again and have reached the European Champions for the 16th straight year. That in a nutshell is the extent of the club’s accomplishments this season. They also played some attractive football and weren’t a bad side to watch at all.
However, on the downside, the season kicked off back in August with the Gunners having an opportunity of winning four different pieces of silverware. Needless to say, they went zero for four as one by one they dropped out of the League Cup, the League title, the FA Cup and the Champions League. They were also embarrassed along the way with losses to lower-division teams. Their highlight was the 2-0 win over Bayern at the Allianz Arena in Munich in the second leg of the Champions League. Unfortunately they were beaten at home at the Emirates 3-0 in the first leg.
Critics will be quick to point out that making the Champions League shouldn’t be something to celebrate because the club isn’t actually there to win the trophy. Instead, it’s just happy to cash in on the financial gains the tournament offers. They say the club just banks the money year after year without spending any or enough of it to improve the squad. Whichever way you feel about the club and its goals are entirely up to each individual supporter.
However, even the staunchest of Arsenal fans, those who place French manager Arsene Wenger up on a pedestal, still realize there’s a lot of work to be done and improvements need to be made during the off season. There’s not really much point pontificating on who Wenger will buy in the summer as there would be an update every five minutes and most of the rumours are simply rubbish anyway. These transfer stories are made up by journalists at the spur of the moment with most of them having no substance at all. The time to report on transfers is after they’ve actually taken place, not before.
Of course, Arsenal has a strong core of good and mostly young players. These include the likes of Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Lukas Podolski, and Olivier Giroud. Many fans would like to see Wenger build a strong team around this nucleus with the rest of the squad, such as Gervinho, Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal, Nicklas Bendtner, Andre Arshavin, Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin, Marouane Chamakh, and keeper Wojciech Szczesny being expendable. The Gunners also have some fine youngsters coming up through the ranks or out on loan, including Ryo Miyaichi and Joel Campbell
Fans need to sit back and detach all emotional attachment when analyzing this club though. In fact, those on the outside looking in are often more capable of giving an honest opinion since there’s nothing swaying it. There were some positive aspects this year though that bode well for the future. Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla proved he could handle the pace of the EPL and chipped in with a dozen goals and about 16 assists. The 28-year-old should be even better next year as he’ll be used to the opposition. Cazorla is a key figure in the Gunners squad due to his consistent and cutting-edge performances.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere is another key player. He’s only 21 and the English international seems to drive the squad from his midfield position. Usually Arsenal goes as Wilshere goes. He dictates the action with top-class defensive and offensive skills. If he can stay healthy he’ll be a star in this league for years to come. He’s perhaps the most important Gunner due to his tender age and he can only get better. He’s captain material for the club and his country. Walcott also had a career year by reaching the 20-goal plateau and his confidence is growing. He’s still in his early 20s as well and could break out in a big way next season.
There’s a lot to build on here and the team may just need some fine tuning rather than an overhaul. It’ll be interesting to see what Wenger does with the spending money in the summer. Many fans would rather buy several strong players rather than blow the whole load on just one or two big-name signings. Players will come and players will go over the next several weeks. We’ll just sit back and see what unfolds at the Emirates and then report on all the happenings as they take place. However, Wenger will have to act relatively quickly before all of the best transfer targets are signed by competitors.