Arsenal have consistently been one of the best teams in English football thanks to long-term manager Arsene Wenger.
However the north London outfit are going through a prolonged trophy drought having failed to win any silverware since the 2005 FA Cup - and it seems like it's only going to continue despite a storming start to the season.
Over the next few weeks, the Gunners have a brutal stretch of games that will make or break their season.
First up is an FA Cup clash against a strong Everton side that will push them to the limit on March 8. Although even if they progress to the next stage, last year’s finalist’s Manchester City will be fancied as favourites to win the trophy.
Soon after facing Roberto Martinez’ side, Arsenal will travel to Germany for the return leg of the Champion’s League match-up against Bayern - and after the 2-0 loss at Emirates Stadium, they now have a mountain to climb.
The German champions are near-enough unbeatable at the Allianz Arena, having only tasted defeat twice in the past year - both of which came against English teams.
One of them came against Arsenal in last year’s surprise 2-0 win, but don’t expect another shock result this time around. This year’s Bayern Munich team is arguably even stronger and, as captain Philipp Lahm said, will be weary of last season’s result.
Even former manager George Graham feels all hope is lost in Europe after saying: “One of the questions facing Arsene is whether they play their best team and try to win the tie, which is near impossible, or concentrate on the league.
“Personally I’d play a weakened team because I think the second half of the first leg was like a practice match for Bayern.”
Come March 16, fans will be looking for a strong outing against fierce rivals Tottenham in the north London derby at White Hart Lane.
That will be followed by a potentially title-deciding fixtures against Premier League leaders Chelsea and Manchester City in the consecutive weeks before meeting Everton yet again, at Goodison Park.
Meanwhile Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, who have a stronger and deeper squad, will have an easier run of fixtures as they face Galatasaray in the Champions League and the only other plausible stumbling blocks - besides Arsenal of course - are Liverpool and Tottenham.
Mesut Ozil has been the poster boy for exhaustion recently, although he isn’t the only one as others like Olivier Giroud have also been struggling.
Per Mertesacker even spoke about the issue, after the Champions League defeat, stating: “We have a lot of games here in England. Everyone is tired, we came from a massive game on Sunday against Liverpool. Everybody was confident to show another great team performance tonight. So it is up to everybody to encourage each other again and to come back."
That's yet another player complaining about the lack of a winter break, but all the other teams have managed to battle through the high intensity period and come out relatively unscathed, so why can’t Arsenal do it?
The answer simply is that they don’t have enough strength in depth to rotate players in and out and still play at the same level, especially upfront. Giroud is the only one able to play as the lone-striker and Arsenal just don’t look to be the same side when he isn’t in the line-up.
Youngsters such as Yaya Sanogo and Serge Gnabry will try hard and put in a good shift, but the decline in quality is still plain to see, case in point versus Bayern Munich - albeit there were some other factors at work.
The lack of depth also doesn’t help matters when players are dropping like flies thanks to injuries and Wenger is forced to keep on using the same line-ups over and over again.
Arsenal have put up a good fight to get this far into multiple competitions but that has also been their downfall. The never-ending list of extra games in what is an already taxing season, both mentally and physically, is just too much to overcome.
At this rate, the only way fans get to see their team winning any silverware in 2013/14 is if Arsene Wenger concedes one of the trophy hunts. Starting with the Champions League.
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