Arsenal, where a trophyless cloud has gathered above the Emirates, waiting for better times to return.
It has been almost a decade since the Gunners achieved a feat that many thought impossible in the modern game; going through an entire season unbeaten. With a squad to rival any team in the world and a manager adored by countless fans at the now extinct Highbury, all was well for the North London club. However, a fast forward into 2013, shows a team unrecognisable from the aforementioned ‘invincibles’. Different stadium, different squad, different issues. While the man at the helm remains the same, Arsene Wenger’s job status has transformed from ‘untouchable’ to ‘insecure’. You have to sympathise with Arsenal fans given the current climate at the Emirates; condemned for not supporting the great Wenger but never seeing the expected results on the pitch; it is an unenviable situation to be in. What Wenger and fans alike must not do, is rely on their past successes to justify their status as a big club. The old guard are long gone, playing in far off lands or providing derisory commentary for various football networks. The fresh faces at the Emirates must create a history of their own to validate the stature of the club, or risk sinking Arsenal into comparative anonymity.
There is no question that the achievements of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in the early years of this millennia will never be forgotten. Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira among countless others will be considered Premier League legends indefinitely. However, should the current crop of Gunners continue to remain trophyless for the next few seasons, these legendary players will not be the lasting memory of the club in the future. The ‘almost’ men will be the legacy of the North London club, a tag that no Arsenal fan will want lingering around. It is absolutely essential that the club wins a trophy in the next 2 or 3 years. The danger is visible; lower league finishes, no longer considered a European elite, failing to attract the necessary talent. Liverpool are following a similar path since the heady heights of Champions League victory in 2005. Both teams are no longer considered as much of a threat to the Premier League. While financial developments at both Chelsea and Man City have certainly not helped the cause, the simple fact is that the Gunners can no longer classify themselves as they used to. While it may be easy to say that dismissing Arsene Wenger would bring a breath of fresh air to a club in desperate need of silverware, who is to say that the situation will prevail with any other manager. It is the mentality that needs to change. Forget the past, it is an ever distant memory. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are the steadfast future of the club and they need to show what they are capable of and announce Arsenal as a ‘big club’ once again through their own achievements.
As a football fan, it is not a pleasant experience to watch a team, who you have seen at such highs, experience such comparative lows. With or without Wenger, the club must push forward and erase their predecessor’s glory if they are to remain as one of the most respected, feared and, most importantly, successful football clubs in the world.