Another season and yet no trophies! This brings the total count to 8 years and trophy cabinet is still empty. The team celebrated finishing fourth in a way that made me wonder whether Arsenal had won the English Premier league.
The start and the end of the season (2012-2013) have been dramatically opposite to each other. Arsenal struggled and were knocked out of contention-ship of all the championship by the middle of the season and towards the end, while fighting for the UEFA Champions League place (Top 4) they played like a champion side!. Arsenal didn’t lose any of their last 11 matches going on to defeat Bayern Munich a feat which even Barcelona couldn’t achieve this year!
Fortunately this season, finishing fourth is a commendable achievement for arsenal. This team was one of the least talented team Arsène Wenger has fielded in a long time. With the lone world-class player Robin Van Persie leaving for Manchester United. Arsène Wenger signed Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. Signing of Santi Cazorla was a game changer without which top four finish would have been a mirage.
If a team is formed out of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs players only Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Laurent Koscielny would be the automatic choices from Arsenal in that team. This speaks volumes about the quality of the Arsenal side.
The greatest positive from this season is that Arsenal is no longer a one man team, Robin Van Persie’s transfer to Manchester United changed the one man team into an actual team. Although the team is still reliant on Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere but there are quite a few scoring options available now. If everyone else fails, defenders are around to score the winners!
Arsenal still needs to sign 3-4 players: a defender, a mid fielder, a center forwards and a goalkeeper. Olivier Giroud and Gervinho are very inconsistent. Theo Walcott is more of a wide player than a center forward. Arsenal could do with somebody of David Villa‘s caliber.
Next season could be little easier compared to this season. Since there will be managerial changes at Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton. I know Jose Mourinho was at Chelsea before and David Moyes has been running his own version of Arsenal themed-budget team in Everton. It would still take some time for these guys to settle down in their roles as manager of Chelsea and Manchester United. On top of that Chelsea team has changed a lot since Jose Mourinho’s days. He needs to re-establish rapport with the players again. David Moyes will be running a successful team after a long time. It all needs little getting used to.
For last two seasons Arsenal have sold their captains: Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie. Next season (2013-2014) this pattern may continue as Thomas Vermaelen might be on his way out! Hopefully he can be convinced to stay for a year and fight for his place.
This might provide Arsenal with an opportunity to start well. But I still believe the best chance for Arsenal to win trophies will be Capital One Cup and FA Cup (Emirates cup doesn’t count). Since Arsene Wenger and Stanley Kroenke have agreed to sign more player and concentrate on winning trophies gooners can finally look forward to next season with some realistic hope!
Positives from 2012-2013 season
1. Aaron Ramsey:
He is finally playing at the level he used to play before injury. His confidence is back. It would be fun to see him play next season.
2. Jack is Back:
Jack Wilshere’s recovery from injury was very important and the impact he has had on the team in unquestionable. The fact that an injured Jack Wilshere made it to the bench for the final game of the season is testimonial to his importance to the team.
3. Defensive setup:
Koscielny and Mertesacker have performed so well that Thomas Vermaelen has failed to get a look in. Monreal and Kieran Gibbs have also done well. Finally there is some hope for the much criticized defence.
4. Arsene Wenger has had a change of heart:
Finally Wenger has agreed to spend money on signing new player without selling anybody! Wenger in the past would say that he would sign a player if good players are available (read available for cheap). Thankfully that attitude seems to be changing.