Arsenal Rueing Their Early Season Form by SG
It goes without saying that Arsenal FC have a history which is the envy of most football teams. Yet, until The Gunners’ nine-year trophy drought was ended last season when they lifted the FA Cup, the noise of the questions being asked about the club’s ambition continued to grow ever louder. And even winning the grand old trophy did not sate the appetite of everyone.
The 2014-15 season has been another case in point. Arsenal’s 2014 FA Cup win merely raised expectations among supporters who hoped that Arsene Wenger would be able to rekindle his midas touch and use the success as a springboard.
The club’s patchy form and over-reliance on the brilliance of Alexis Sanchez prior to Christmas, coupled with their exit from the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16 to little fancied AS Monaco did nothing to dispel the view that Wenger might not be able to push his side a step further.
It was a view propagated by an interview which Chelsea FC manager Jose Mourinho gave to Sky Sports on their Goals on Sunday programme:
“He (Wenger) has a dream job that we’d all love to have. I think every manager in the world would like the stability by being here year after year after year, to buy to sell and rebuild and wait and wait for success.”
Wenger, of course, oversaw the transitional period at Arsenal when moving from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. His success in the late nineties/early noughties with a side that continually jousted with Sir Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United perhaps bought him time. However, the move to their new ground also ushered in a period of prudence with transfer fees and salaries, as the Arsenal board sought to cover the costs.
The nine-year gap between trophies did nothing to stop capacity crowds flocking to the Emirates to watch Wenger’s trademark attacking brand of football—tickets to watch Arsenal were, and still are, consistently in high demand.
“What he did winning so many titles in a certain period gave him that credibility that he deserves,” Mourinho opined in the same interview. “He’s a fantastic manager but I think he has a fantastic situation to be successful. When I look at the players and the squad, I really think they have to win.”
Mid-April saw Arsene Wenger’s men in the throes of an eight-game winning streak, which took them to second place in the English Premier League. Wenger himself expressed surprise at such a run of results but, had their form before Christmas not have been so inconsistent, these wins would surely have seen the North London side pushing Mourinho’s Chelsea much closer in this year’s title race.
As it is, it all appears to be a case of too little, too late — and the FA Cup may just rescue the season. Again, most other clubs and their supporters can only cast envious glances.