Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has claimed that this season has been a successful one despite another title challenge disintegrating in March.
The Frenchman is once again facing a battle to make the all-important fourth-place in the league, with Everton pushing hard, to secure Champions League football for the 17th successive season.
While this is not unfamiliar to Arsenal fans, there is the added bonus of contesting an FA Cup Final at Wembley against Hull (City/Tigers??) next month to end the club’s nine year wait for a trophy.
Arsenal topped the Premier League for four months and looked set to stay the distance with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City to claim the crown.
But two sickening defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea in March, 5-1 and 6-0 respectively, obliterated any hopes for a first league triumph since the Invincibles of 2004.
The loss of key players Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil certainly contributed to the downfall but ultimately Wenger has to take responsibility for that.
Strengthening the squad in January was an absolute must but Wenger decided to go with what he had at his disposal and he paid the price for that.
But this season has thrown up many positives which can be carried forward to next season.
Arsenal played some stunning football for the first half of the season and did not get to the top of the league by accident.
Ozil started his Arsenal career with a bang following his £42m move from Real Madrid, scoring four and providing six assists in his first 12 Premier League games before suffering with fatigue.
As Wenger said in a recent press conference, Ozil will be one of the players vying for the Player of the Year crown next season which is something I completely agree with.
Ramsey was a major loss for Arsenal and his stats for the first half of the season were second to none before he suffered a groin injury which would rule him out until April.
In 17 league starts, the Welshman scored eight times and provided seven assists while he was also the club’s top tackler until recently, despite not playing since Boxing Day.
His industry and engine in the middle of the park is something Arsenal really missed against the top teams and his return to full fitness will be a welcome sight ahead of the run-in.
Had Wenger’s key player stayed fit for the duration of the season, the club could well be going into the final four games of the season with a chance of the title.
But all-in-all, this season has been an improvement on last season’s campaign despite another failed title challenge and the club have a good platform on which to build from.
Securing Champions League football along with an FA Cup success would enable the club to (hopefully) sign the world-class players needed to take them to the next level.
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