The last two seasons have given fans of Arsenal Football Club something to really start shouting about. With two FA Cups, two FA Community Shields, their continued presence in the top four of the English Premier League and subsequent qualification to the UEFA Champions League all secured, there seems much more success to look forward to just around the corner.
The most important part of this purple patch has been finally remembering the feeling of being a winner after nine long and tough years both for the team and the fans.
Winning back-to-back FA Cups is no mean feat. That is a run of twelve games unbeaten! And yet, the team has achieved so much over the last couple of years without what most would term as a world-class goalkeeper.
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The arrival of Petr Cech, one of the very best in the goalkeeping business, from Chelsea Football Club certainly has made a statement. Arsenal now seem ready to end their 11 season wait for a Premier League crown. And what better way to show how ready they are then to finally beat a team managed by Jose Mourinho after thirteen attempts.
Arsenal’s 1-0 victory at Wembley Stadium in this year’s FA Community Shield, against what did look like an under-cooked Chelsea side it must be noted, certainly removed the monkey of not beating a Mourinho-managed side firmly from its back. They can now go into games against Chelsea without the pressure and fear of an invincible team.
There are numerous reasons to start believing that this could finally be Arsenal’s year. However, how many times has that been said before over the last few seasons?
It seems like at the start of every recent season, Arsenal are always there or there-abouts in terms of title contenders. But when push comes to shove, the final hurdle always seems a little too high to jump over.
Current Chelsea captain John Terry said that Cech would be worth an extra 12-15 points. With Arsenal finishing 12 points behind Chelsea last season, Cech’s migration across London will undoubtedly lower that final hurdle and make it easier to clear. But will it be enough to finally push Arsenal over the finish line in first place? My heart is telling me yes, but my mind is telling me no.
Need to Strengthen
While Cech has been the only new addition at Arsenal, most of the other title contenders have strengthened heavily in this transfer window. This season could be even closer and more unpredictable due to the quality of signings other clubs have made.
Even though Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has not been shy to splash the cash recently, it is difficult to see who else he can realistically bring in to strengthen the team.
The one clear area that needs looking at is defensive midfield, even after the resurgence of Francis Coquelin towards the second half of last season. Ever since former captain Patrick Vieira left in 2005, the heart of Arsenal’s midfield has never been the same and he has never really been replaced.
No More Excuses
Mourinho made it clear that Arsenal have no more excuses left for not winning the Premier League. Many football fans would agree with him. However, as much as I want to believe that this could be their year, I think deep down, I know it is false optimism I am feeling. I hope I am wrong.
Amidst the unpredictability and chaos that this season is bound to bring, I do hope for major surprises and upsets. If Arsenal can hit the ground running and start the season strongly, they will have every chance to mount a real title challenge. And all they need is a chance.
It is time for the talking to stop and the football to begin!