The plight of a modern Arsenal fan is an amusing one. In Arsene Wenger they are saddled with a stubborn and previously successful manager, who showed them what greatness looked like, only to take it away. In just his second season, Arsenal did the double, winning the league and the FA Cup. Between 1997–2005 Arsenal won 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups and 4 FA Community Shield trophies under Wenger. Now, almost a decade after that last FA Cup triumph against Manchester United, Arsenal are enduring the type of trophy drought the Sahara Desert would be proud of. Once in a while Arsene’s Arsenal teases its fans with a cup final, like the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona and the 2011 League Cup final against Birmingham; giving their fans glimpses of trophies they were ultimately destined not to win.
On the one hand Arsenal fans are grateful to a man that brought unprecedented success to Arsenal. A man that revolutionized not only Arsenal as a club, but English soccer as a whole. He changed preconceived notions about diet and exercise, while at the same time exhorting an ethos of attractive, attacking football never before seen by the Arsenal faithful. In the process he, albeit briefly, disrupted the stranglehold that Manchester United had on the Premier League, discombobulating all previously held beliefs about the status quo. In 2003-2004, his Arsenal team went an entire season unbeaten in the league – a unique feat that had never before been achieved in the Premier League, and hasn’t been replicated since.
The problem with winning though is that it’s like an addictive substance. You can go your whole life without it, but once you’ve tasted it, you want more. Almost a decade on from their last major trophy, Arsenal fans are still going through silverware withdrawal symptoms. They are itchy and impatient, showing a heightened level of frustration with a manager that changed the culture of the club. Now being pretty is no longer enough. They want a taste of some of the success that Wenger’s early swashbuckling teams provided. They want to win again, instead of pretending to challenge for honors every year, only to drop out of the running in every competition by February.
To do that, Arsenal and their manager might need to take a step back in order to ultimately move forward. Lowly Wigan and possibly Hull or Sheffield United is all that stands between Arsenal and a FA Cup triumph this year. The path to glory seems relatively clear, although as they showed against Birmingham in that now infamous cup final, they are more than capable of tripping themselves up.