As Arsenal waved goodbye to Mikel Arteta at the end of the season, we were also waving goodbye to our captain. Arteta’s retirement now raises the question of which Arsenal star will wear the armband next season with the ambition to lead the team to success.
Arsenal have six current players (I haven’t included Granit Xhaka) set to feature in this summers Euro16 tournament in France, but which one is most likely to bring back the trophy and the bragging rights to the Gunners dressing room?
We have Petr Cech appearing for the Czech Republic, and also the departed Tomas Rosicky. We also have (the nearly departed) Wojciech Szczesny in goal for Poland, but I think we can safely exclude them from the possible winners. If you do want to take a chance on them then Poland are around 50/1 and the Czechs are right out at 100/1
At least the injury situation at Arsenal Football Club has been better this season than it has in recent years. And the fact that many of the injury problems that our players like Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla have had have been impact problems, so it does look like Arsene Wenger and the bringing in of a couple more fitness and conditioning experts has had a beneficial effect.
But we still have yet to see the unlucky Jack Wilshere play this season and have missed big players like Alexis Sanchez for significant periods. Perhaps the biggest loss, however, has been the absence of Santi Cazorla in the middle of the pitch.
It feels at Arsenal that our injury problems are like buses in that they always seem to come at once and so we often see a certain position severely weakened as Arsene Wenger loses two or three players in the same area of the pitch at the same time.
It has been central midfield for most of the season but at least the return of Ramsey and then Coquelin and the transfer addition of Elneny has eased that particular problem. Now, though, it looks like the prof could be faced with a bit of a crisis in the Central Attacking Midfield role.
It was being reported in the football media a few days ago that Arsenal were already preparing to offer the manager a new contract, despite Arsene Wenger having signed a three year extension just last summer. So even though the Gunners are going great guns and looking as though this might be the year we finally regain the Premier League trophy, most Arsenal fans think this news is a bit premature.
So this is it Gooners, Arsenal’s last game of the current season is very close now and Arsene Wenger needs his players to dig deep for one last performance against Aston Villa at Wembley to make sure that history is made by the club and the manager today.
So as Wenger aims to become only the second manager to win the famous old trophy six times and the only man to do it since the war, his team selection today could be the most important ever. And with the Gunners having the chance to go past Man United to be the most successful club in FA cup history, we need him to get it right.
This is no time for Arsenal fans or the players and manager to be feeling as if the season has been a success, even though the Gunners improved our position in the Premier League table. At least not until the FA cup is confirmed as coming back to north London with us this evening.
That is the reasoning of the England international Jack Wilshere anyway, who has suffered another season of disappointment on the personal front. As reported by the Daily Mail, Wilshere feels that Arsenal could and should have finished the season as runners up to the champions Chelsea.
It was starting to get a bit twitchy for Arsenal fans in recent weeks, even though the point against Sunderland on Wednesday had made sure that we would finish above Man United and go straight into the Champions League group stage, no passing go and no playing two play off games.
So the Gunners were under pressure to beat an in form West Brom today, or we were for about five minutes until Theo Walcott picked up the ball on the right of the penalty area and unleashed a fearsome shot that gave Myhill no chance. Arsenal were already looking good and confident and that early goal settle any nerves.
With Arsene Wenger having spoken about consistency and cohesion in the build up to this last but one game of the Premier League campaign, most people were not expecting many changes to the Arsenal team. And with the Frenchman having selected the same line up for the last six league games in a row, it could easily have been seven.
But a touch of flu for Laurent Koscielny means that Wenger is likely to start Gabriel and I do not think the changes will stop there. I am actually expecting Wenger to pull a bit of a surprise on Sunderland and their manager Dick Advocaat who will surely have prepared his team to nullify our passing and creative game.
Arsenal fans have had more than enough of seeing the likes of Nasri, Clichy, Cole and van Persie being sold to Premier League rivals over the last 10 years, especially when all of them have gone on to help their respective sides to win the trophy that we have not lifted since 2004.
So it is good to hear that Arsene Wenger is as determined as the rest of us not to have to endure that sort of pain anymore. There have been Arsenal transfer rumours this week that Manchester City are hoping to sign Jack Wilshere as part of a big summer of rebuilding, but Wenger has told them not to bother, as reported by the Daily Mail.