It’s that time of the season again when Arsenal fans get overcome with joy and satisfaction that their team remain in the hunt for their first Premier League title in 12 years. Calm down guys, it’s October and everyone knows by March the Champions League will be a distant memory and the thought of Premier League success will be nothing more than a pipe dream similar to that of a Burnley fan.
Every year the Arsenal process under Wenger starts off with disappointment in the transfer window. Wenger may have spent big this summer on signing three much needed players, but he also needed to strengthen the squad’s depth, and that didn’t happen.
Normally an opening day humiliating home defeat to a team threatened with relegation occurs before Arsenal get their act together. By October they tend to have hit a prolific run of form and look set to mount a considerable title challenge on the rest of the league. But then as we push towards Christmas, injuries have taken their tole on the team and the excuses begin to pour out, despite that earlier lack of interest in squad depth.
Nonetheless, injuries to some of their key players during crucial moments of the season is a source of great frustration to the Gunners. But this can’t be the sole reason behind their lack of major trophies over the last decade. Manchester City continue to be successful in the Champions League the past three years despite Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva regularly missing large portions of a season. Premier League titles, Champions League semi-finals and domestic cups have all occurred during the period.
Then, shortly after Christmas we see a rejuvenated Arsenal return after crashing out of the Champions League in March, whilst watching their rivals pick up another major honour at Wembley – the Capital One Cup, which Wenger has never won as a manager, but has helped teams like Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham to keep their momentum going throughout the season.
A decent run of wins puts them right back into contention for the title before another disastrous spell hits by late March and sees them fighting to secure their status for next season’s Champions League – just to exit in the Round of 16 once again the following season, of course.
Unsurprisingly, once the pressure is off and trophies are a distant memory, results and good football return. It highlights the lack of leaders in the squad, and the players who are unable to cope with any sort of pressure. Arsenal tend to finish the season strongly and secure 3rd or 4th place with a trophy parade for finishing above Tottenham.
Arsenal fans start to believe that next season will see it all change. But it never does. It’s been 2004 since Arsenal really stood up to be counted. The club have not been in a title race on the final stages of the season since they moved to the Emirates Stadium and it will not occur this season, either. Fans giddiness is to be expected but the reality is it’s just another year in North London where the ultimate goal will be to finish above Tottenham and crucify other club’s for spending money whilst wishing Wenger would fork out more.
This isn’t the start of a new dawn – it’s the same false one they’ve been witnessing for a decade.