The Arsenal trophy drought has been very well documented. For supporters so used to picking up silverware on a regular basis, it has certainly been a tough spell. The owners, the manager and the players having all been held accountable at one point or another.
But despite the eight barren years, Arsenal will be in a strong position to challenge for the top honors next season. Four determining factors seem to be falling favorably for them both internally and externally.
The Gunners are the only realistic title challengers that will not be subject to seismic changes this summer. Chelsea will have to adapt to yet another managerial change under Jose Mourinho, whereas both Manchester teams will also start the campaign with new bosses. United have turned to David Moyes, who has no history challenging for major trophies and City look set to appoint Manuel Pellegrini, who has no experience of working in the English game.
It would be fair to say that the leagues three best sides have all taken respective gambles in their appointments. As such, there is potential for instability at each club and an extending settling in period is not out of the question for any. If Chelsea, City or United are slow out of the blocks, then Arsenal can capitalize.
But what guarantee is there Arsenal are going to start positively? Well, for the first time in a while Arsene Wenger’s side look like a settled outfit going into a summer break. It almost seems as if they are the sole constant in a changing landscape within the upper reaches of the English game. Both in terms of management and playing staff. And as we shift our focus to Arsenal’s own development, it is perhaps the latter that will be of most encouragement to Gunners supporters.
Wenger will have a settled, cohesive squad to build upon without having to plug gaps left by departing stars. Over the course of the eight trophy-less years, the team have usually settled well in the latter stages of the season, before the sale of key men gives way to a rebuilding job in the summer. This is a cycle that has been repeated far too often for Gunners supporters’ liking.
This summer, you expect it might be broken. The current squad finished in typically strong fashion, picking up 26 points from the 30 on offer in their last 10 games. But this off-season Wenger is not expected to sell any of his key assets. Quite the opposite in fact, for Arsenal are expected to build on those solid foundations.
The team last year, in the main, stepped up after the sales of Robin Van Persie and Alex Song. In Van Persie’s absence, Theo Walcott took on the mantle of being the side’s main goal scoring threat, while Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have also chipped in with double-figure returns.
And it’s not just up front, other areas of the side also look particularly well established. The midfield in particular looks as good as any in England. Cazorla has demonstrated his class with a plethora of excellent showings, whereas Jack Wilshere looks set to get a long overdue full preseason. Mikel Arteta emerged as a quality deep-lying playmaker and Aaron Ramsey also finished the season with a flourish.