Gooner be a Good Season or Bad Season
At the end of the 2004/2005 season, we saw Captain Patrick Viera (now of Manchester City) lift the FA cup. In what was a tightly contested match Arsenal were fortunate to out whit Manchester united 5-4 on penalties. Many Arsenal supporters at the time including myself saw this victory as the start of good things to come. 5 years on and another season has passed us by, yet again Arsenal have nothing to show for it; No trophy, no final, and not even a big player signing. The only glimpse of excitement beaming out of the Arsenal camp at the moment is the battle between board room multi-millionaires Stan Kronke VS Alisher Usmanov.
In terms of this season's outcome, I'm pretty sure my fellow Arsenal fans will see this as another wasted one; a season that promised so much joy but delivered nothing but pain. In all honesty, I felt there may have been a chance of something special being achieved for 2010. Even though critics and pundits alike were adamant at the start of the campaign that Arsenal was not good enough for the title challenge; were not up for the champions league battle and some even claimed the 'Young Guns' would struggle to finish in the top four. How wrong were they on the latter!!! I guess the biggest concern for all us Arsenal fans has to be the trophy cabinet at the Emirates, which hasn’t seen any action since the stadium opened. In fact, it’s probably seen more cobwebs than it has noticeable accolades, the closest the Gooners have come to having any sort of glory was in 2007, when Chelsea’s vastly expensive and experienced team came back from one goal down to dispose of the cheaply constructed teenage Arsenal team who had been wooing home and the neutral supporters throughout the knockout stages of the competition, defeating West Brom, Everton, Liverpool, and Tottenham. Yet 3 years down the line the Gooners have failed to build on this momentum. WHY!!
Project Ashburton Grove aka the Emirates Stadium was desperately needed. The development of the 60’000 seated stadium has ensured we are now able to compete with the United’s and Chelsea’s, in all areas of the game (Signings, contracts, marketing, etc). However in doing so, Arsene Wenger has paid the price heavily, yet Wenger being the wizard he is, has done a marvelous job. Sustaining Arsenal rights to calling themselves a top-four giant, this is at the least required to quench the first of glory-hungry fans. Wenger has been working from a shoestring of finances and resources, and up until now has been unable to battle with the big money men of the premiership, reduced to dipping into the youth setup or finding cheap deals across the world. He was not helped by the fact David Dein, one of his closest allies at the club, chose to part ways with the Arsenal board (2007) due to conflicting views over the direction of the club. This inadvertently introduced us to now Arsenals largest shareholder Stan Kronke, who at the current moment is in a power struggle with the Russian billionaire owner Alisher Usmanov, whose ‘Red & White holdings’ was being chaired by David Dein up until 2008. Wenger being a lateral thinker, a shrewd businessman and tactical genius has overcome such financial restraints & board squabbling by helping to guide his flock of young talent helping them to concentrate on the on-field battles rather than the distracting pot shots that are happening within the board room. The Past 5 years have seen Wenger build a squad of young and upcoming stars. He has trusted his youth policy and continued giving the next flock of talent the chance to flex their developing muscles. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby, Alex song & Jack Wilkshere are proof of Wenger's theory that youth players can play an important role in sustaining Arsenals & Arsene Wenger rich legacy of entertaining football of the highest quality. Arsene has convinced this current crop of players if kept as a tight unit will be able to overturn the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea and when looking at how this season has turned out, this claim is not far from the truth. Arsenal was being ridiculed at the beginning of the season for their lack of spending. Wenger had a pre-season clear out, releasing the likes of Adebayor and Toure to Manchester City for a joint fee of around £25m, his only signing during the august transfer window was 10 million signings of Thomas Vermaelen. Most of Wenger’s peers saw this as him being defiant and once again naive for trusting the same talent to take him into another premier league campaign. The Campaign started weirdly, there was the case of a 6-1 victory away to Everton (whom to be honest were very wobbly, due to an early-season injury crisis), we then went on to beat Portsmouth, only then to be defeated by both Manchester’s within a space of a week, after the defeat to the city we were already being written out of the race for the title. However from September – November we garnered a 9 game premier league non-losing streak, winning 8 of the nine games. It wasn’t until we came up against another of our top four competitors that we came unstuck beaten 3-0 by Chelsea, a superb hat trick from Didier Drogba. The losses to United and Chelsea were indicators for the pundits that Arsenal had still a long way to go before being ready to compete with the biggest. We then went on another 12 game none losing streak applying the pressure on both Chelsea and Untied only to be beaten again by the two. But when the chips were down, we bounced back to trounce FC Porto 5-0 at the Emirates in the Champions League. Only to find out we would face the spectacle known as Barcelona. This was being tipped as the match of Total Football. However in the premiership, the momentum was slowly pleating away, pressure and injuries were taking their toll. The season effectively came to an end after Barcelona dumped us out of the champion League with two terrific displays, one of which Argentina’s whiz kids Lionel Messi called all the shots (Literally). In the premiership, our greatest rivals ended our challenge totally beating us 2-1 in a must-win match, credit to Harry Redknapp's Spurs. Now with the season finished Arsenal lay 3rd in the table and with such a young squad, i believe this is a wonderful testament to Arsene Wenger's youth policy, Allan Hansen once said, “You can’t win anything with kids...” However I would like to point out in a 38 game season, Arsenal has won 23 matches to finish in the top four, ensuring they’ve qualified for the champion’s league once again; exited the quarter-finals stage of the champions league, beaten by arguably the world’s best; the youth was knocked out of the Carling Cup by a very strong Manchester City side, who gave Man Utd a run for their money in the Semi’s. So I conclude even though trophies are not heading towards the Emirates this term, all is not lost. I believe all Gooners should be able to feel proud about the outcome of this season and positive about the next one, if Arsene Wenger manages to introduce a few new faces for next term, preferably a New Goalie, two Defenders, and two Strikers then Arsenal will be a stronger and more resilient outfit. We have the stadium, we have the history and we have the talent! IN ARSENE WE TRUST!! These views have been brought to you by Gavin C Henry aka Da G-Man