Arsenal once went an entire league season unbeaten. Today that achievement feels like a glorious episode from another lifetime! By winning 26 matches and securing a draw in the remaining 12 English Premier League games during the 2003-2004 season, Arsenal won the title while remaining undefeated.
Ever since that title, whilst they have consistently shown great promise and potential, Arsene Wenger’s Gunners have enjoyed little success in the Premier League. The London side has found it much easier to impose its will in the FA Cup. Wenger has overseen Arsenal’s last 7 FA Cup triumphs, including an impressive haul of three FA Cup trophies out of the last four tournaments. However, Arsenal have struggled to contend in the Premier League and have been unable to add to their haul of three EPL titles under Wenger.
Their best effort came back in 2016. Despite comfortably beating Leicester 5-2 in the away fixture and securing all three points with a 2-1 home win, they finished ten points behind the English Premier League champions. As has been the case so often during last decade, the Gunners could not put a solid season from start to finish. Arsenal’s objective seemed more concerned with finishing in the top 4 in EPL to secure participating in the Champions League rather than challenging for top spot in the Premiership.
Take for instance 2016. After recovering from a goal down to beat Leicester 2-1 at the Emirates, with Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck scoring in the final twenty minutes, the Gunners followed that up by losing successive games to Manchester United and Swansea.
The two defeats essentially ended their aspirations of winning the title, as Leicester secured a historic, and perhaps the most improbable, EPL title with two games to spare. Fast forward to 2017, and with no Champions League football to either focus upon or stretch resources, the current campaign represents a good opportunity for Arsenal to convert the potential into a sustained bid to win the title.
In front of the reliable Petr Cech, defenders such as Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny have been tasked with stopping opponents while Granit Xhaka is given the role of forming the first wall to prevent opposing players from scoring against Arsenal. Together the quintet create a solid base for their more creative minded colleagues to express themselves. Wenger has a decent number of quality options in attack at his disposal.
Among those is the club’s record signing Alexandre Lacazette who can look for Germany’s Mesut Ozil to supply the incisive passes and deliver the assists. There is a fair depth in terms of wide players and forwards, with Wenger facing the problem of being unable to accommodate them all. One concern is the form and the future of talented Chilean star Alexis Sanchez.
Arsenal’s positive results are often followed by setbacks. This has been a common theme for Arsenal over the last decade, with the club mixing winning streaks with a run of inexplicable results which often doom the club’s title hopes.
Rather than build upon good results, Arsenal all too often suffer from disappointment. This leads to the conclusion that the manager as well as the squad lack the resolve and strength to win key matches in which they are thoroughly tested.
It is that problem, which prevents a talented Arsenal side from fulfilling their potential and achieving the success that they are capable of.
With players such as Lacazette, Ozil, Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal can retain hope of challenging the big teams. However, as witnessed in the last several years this hope has rarely translated into results let alone EPL titles when it matters the most. Arsenal tend to falter towards the end of the season. Will the lack of Champions League football mean the Gunners will be fresh and raring to go while the main contenders, such as Manchester City and Manchester United, will be suffering from fatigue and injuries due to a more intense schedule?
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