Another season has passed by without Arsenal getting any nearer to a Premier League title that continues to desert them. It is amazing to think that the last time we lifted the trophy aloft as the best team in England was all the way back in 2004 when the “Invincibles” provided us with magical football that we would give anything to see a repeat of. You cannot help but take your hat off to Leicester’s remarkable rise from narrowly avoiding relegation to becoming Premier League champions in the space of just one year, but I felt it was a wonderful opportunity that went begging for Arsenal. It may be the only season in which all of the big guns struggled to impose themselves, and although finishing runners-up may represent an element of progress, it would, in all honestly, mask over what was a rather indifferent campaign; we only came second because Tottenham imploded to wild amusement across our fans, and I believe we dropped points in too many games where Arsenal were expected to produce the goods, yet failed to deliver. Coral may believe we are amongst the strong favourites to compete for the Holy Grail next season and wrestle it from Leicester’s grasps, but it may require numerous changes before I start to believe it will not be unlucky 13 for the Gunners.
It feels like Groundhog Day saying this, but it could be a crucial summer for Arsenal if Arsene Wenger finally opens his eyes and mind to what many fans and pundits can see in front of them. Inconsistency and dropping points might naturally occur from time to time, but the only person that can take responsibility for the lack of strength in depth that always bites us in the backside once injuries and suspensions kick in is the manager. We always pay the ultimate price for not having adequate back-up in numerous areas, and given that it is inevitable that players will endure a dip in form at some point, it serves as a dummy whammy when Arsenal have no-one to step in and produce the goods. Bringing in Granit Xhaka for a deal which could rise to £30 million from Borussia Monchengladbach should represent the start of many new faces arriving in North London, but Wenger’s recent comments that he wants balance with two or three more arrivals has instantly put a dampener on any spending spree that I, or anyone else, was hoping for.
Any suggestion that Wenger would be forced out the door after falling short in the league once again has been almost forgot about, and while I feel that is probably the best decision in the short term, he will have to make changes this summer. This is even more prevalent now managers are grabbing more headlines than players this summer, with Coral installing the two Manchester clubs as favourites to win the league following the arrival of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho at City and United respectively. It is perhaps another reason why I believe Arsenal may rue not seizing the opportunity when the door was left wide open for them to take full advantage, and with Antonio Conte also arriving in the Premier League at Chelsea, we have to get it spot on next season.
Leicester ultimately won the league with one tactic that proved incredibly effective from start to finish, but Arsenal need other ideas to compliment plan A; being one of the most eye-catching teams in England is all well and good, but it becomes frustrating to watch when we continue to try passing our way through teams when it is clearly not working. I have no doubt that we have the players to make plan A work, particularly if Jack Wilshere gets himself back to full fitness and stays away from the treatment table, although we need to see more from Alexis Sanchez who never really imposed himself last season. Wenger will surely have to dip into the transfer market again if Arsenal are to assert themselves in the Premier League, particularly in midfield since Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta have been allowed to leave. A proven goal-scorer upfront would certainly not go amiss, while another centre-back or right-back would ensure we have a team capable of competing. Sourcing players that would slot straight into our team and fit the style of play can only make us stronger, and with many of our title rivals likely to strengthen their ranks even further, I would happily welcome a marquee signing or two to raise my hopes that Arsenal can end 13 long years without a league title.