Arsene Wenger’s men need to step up or risk damaging the legacy of the professor.
Champions Chelsea struggling to regain their title winning form shown last season, Manchester United still in transition with the uncertainty over Louis Van Gaal’s future and Manchester City failing to show the consistency that is needed to win the league title. All these factors taken into account the most obvious answer would be that Arsenal are set to win their first title since 2004, though it seems they are making very hard work of it.
For years Arsenal fans have been crying out for the silverware that Arsene Wenger so gloriously bought to North London in the first ten years of his spell at the club. Double-winners, invincibles, Manchester United’s biggest rival. Then came along the Emirates Stadium in 2006. A modern piece of art built with the aim that increased revenue would allow the club to compete with the financial powers in the modern game such as rivals Chelsea and Manchester City. The club are now in a very good economic situation, albeit angering fans with their abnormally high ticket prices. Commercially, the Emirates Stadium has been a huge success. However, performances on the field have taken a step back from the days of Campbell, Vieira and Bergkamp at Highbury.
Up until Aaron Ramsey’s dramatic late winner vs Hull City in the FA Cup Final in 2014, the gunners fans had witnessed nine years of failed title hunts, shortcomings in Europe and domestic cup final defeats. Year on year they saw their best players leave to rival clubs. Kolo Toure, Nasri, Adebayor and Clichy all joined the financially revolutionised Man City while Cesc Fabregas returned to his home town of Barcelona and Van Persie made the controversial move to rivals Manchester United. Inadequate replacements, defensive frailties and a lack of elite players saw Arsenal slip behind their rivals and settle for fourth every year. Pundits, fans and just about anyone with an opinion on football regularly pointed out what Arsenal were missing. Leaders and world class quality. Fans frustrations were constantly answered with the fact that once the money used to build the Emirates is paid back they will be able to compete at the top level again.
This promise of glory and big money signings seemed to come into fruition in the summer of 2013 with the deadline day signing of £42million man Mesut Özil. The following year the Gunner’s had their first taste of silverware since 2005 with an FA Cup final win over Hull City. That summer further world class quality was brought to the club in the form of exciting winger Alexis Sanchez. Tactically, it seemed as though Arsenal had seen the light with impressive wins over Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Manchester City and the demolition of Liverpool in a win at the Emirates. The signing of Petr Cech heavily improved a much sterner defence than the previous Arsenal sides. Francis Coquelin filled the void left by Gilberto Silva to be the ‘Policeman’ in the Arsenal midfield as referred to by Thierry Henry.
With all these components coming together, as well as direct rivals not performing to their usual standard, there are simply no excuses this season. With Pep Guardiola taking the helm at Man City next season, it may be now or never for the Arsenal players to restore Arsene Wengers legacy as one of the greatest managers in modern football. They host red hot Leicester City on Sunday afternoon with a point to prove, and to take a step closer to the league title.
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