They say that football is a game of two halves, which is blatantly obvious, but it really means that things can change very quickly and you never know what is going to happen. This season, for Arsenal, has certainly reflected that. It has been a season of two halves.
At the halfway stage, after Giroud had scored the only goal in a tough away game at Newcastle, Arsenal were sitting on top of the Premier League table and had been for most of the campaign, but the warning signs were there. The French striker was looking jaded and had lost his early scoring form, Ramsey and Ozil were out injured and Walcott would join them two games later, having only just come back from his earlier injury.
It all went downhill from there for the Gunners, except for the FA cup, which has given Arsene Wenger and the players a great chance to shut the media up, or at least force them to come up with something else to talk about that does not have the words trophy and drought in it. The manager has been giving his take on the season, in an Arsenal.com report, and has identified a few key factors that derailed the push to become champions.
The Frenchman said, “We started in the worse possible way. After that we had a good strong home record.
“The restriction we had was in the big games, when we only made draws and not wins in some of them. That’s where the missing points are at the moment because we are very close to the top. Maybe one or two wins at home would have made that difference.
“The regret we have of the season is that we have been remarkably consistent, [but] it is against the teams who did not fight for the Premier League title. But especially away from home in some of the big games, we could not claim the points.
“When we came out of Christmas, we were in a strong position and what you want then is to have your strong players available in March and April.
“We had too many injuries. It is very, very difficult – you can have one or two but after that when you have too many injuries you always have to play the same players and that is detrimental to the efficiency of the group.
“The regret we have is that too many players were out at the same time between Christmas and April.”
What a lot of Arsenal fans will say, however, is that Wenger had the option, in January, of bringing players in to take that pressure off and boost our squad, but all we got was Kim Kallstrom, another injured midfielder. I wonder if Wenger looks back and thinks that a loan or short term contract for someone like Berbatov would have made a difference.