There is little doubt over the fact that Arsenal’s decision to take up a huge debt to finance their move to a bigger stadium, and the barren run that followed were no coincidence.
As the weight of the debt lifted, the Gunners started showing signs of improvement both in terms of performances on the pitch and more tangibly in terms of silverware.
The Emirates club that panicked to contrive its own downfall against relegated Birmingham City in the League Cup final not so long ago has now won two back-to-back FA Cups.
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There is enough evidence to suggest that they have been good value for it too and did not just ride their luck.
For instance, the team held its own more than once against big clubs, something they had long been criticised for not being able to manage; the highlight being breaking the hoodoo at Old Trafford after eight long years.
The situation was almost tailor made for the old Arsenal to panic and crumble, but this team managed to avoid that, indicating that the club have addressed some of the issues that had held them back in recent times.
And though even with all the progress, there was still some daylight between Arsenal and the champions Chelsea in the points table last season, the gap in terms of mind-set and quality on the pitch between Arsenal and the top teams has visibly narrowed over the last couple of years.
The big question now is how to set the expectations right for the next season. Now, regardless of the club one supports, they would have to be a little daft to expect their club to win the Premier League even before the season has started.
There are so many factors in play that you just can’t take anything for granted. Having said that, Chelsea fans can realistically expect their club to mount a serious bid to retain the title next season and with all the big money reinforcements being made by Manchester United, their supporters are also entitled to expect their team to pose a serious challenge.
So what should be the reasonable level of expectation for Arsenal supporters? What would constitute as progress this coming season? Though Arsenal have improved in class and self belief lately, they are yet to seriously challenge in recent times.
Even last year, they were 11 points behind Chelsea pretty early on and it was always a long shot
from there. For it to be any different next year, they’ll have to raise their game further, especially in crunch fixtures.
Final league standings alone can’t be a measure of progress, better parameters to track their progress would be the strength and consistency of their title challenge next season, progress in Europe and of course their defence of the FA Cup.
But, we should bear in mind that Arsenal have come a long way following a baron eight years, and if for some reason they don’t make enough progress next season, it’ll be harsh to dismiss all the good work by drawing conclusions at the end of it.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal teams have always been like works of art; they take a long time to complete, require immense patience from the audience and aren't all that good at times, but when they are, there is nothing in the world that you would rather look at and admire.
Arsenal fans: What are your expectations heading into the new season? Have your say below!
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