Why Arsenal will win the Premier League Title this season
by Jake Surrey, Guest Contributor
Well, for starters, it’s about time really isn’t it? It hasn’t happened since the Invincibles in ‘03/’04. And then the bubble burst at Pizzagate, and we then had the decade long trophy drought which ended with last year’s FA Cup. It’s worth noting, by the by, the last time we went into a season with back-to-back cups and a new goalie was the Invincible season.
Superstition and uncanny coincidence aside, there are all kinds of reasons for Arsenal fans to be optimistic going into the forthcoming campaign. We now have a squad which has proven it can win cups, beating the big boys along the way. We have squad depth. We don’t have the turmoil of marquee players leaving under acrimonious circumstances. We have a manager who is regaining the belief of all but the most obdurate supporters – let alone the players. We have a spine made up of proven world-beaters.
Props where they’re due: he’s not perfect, but Arsène has guided the helm through the financial doldrums of the mid-2000s to bring the club back to where we are now, without selling out, without walking away, and while maintaining our all-important Champion’s league spot. The man definitely suffers from stubbornness and, at times, a frustrating tactical intransigence. Yet at the same time he has remained unwilling to compromise his vision of how football should be played in order to get the easy win, or by selling the club into excessive debt.
And we’re now seeing the benefit. The last few transfer windows have seen us sign players that are undeniably World Class. We’re talking about guys who have won World Cups and Champion’s Leagues. And it’s no coincidence this has coincided with a return to us winning silverware. Mr Wenger seems to have his mojo back, and guiding a squad of players who genuinely want to be at Arsenal, under his direction, there’s no reason he can’t lead us back to the top of the Premier League pack.
When you take into account that just about every player in the squad looks to want to be there (the ones we have are signing tings a lot quicker; the ones who’ve left have a nostalgic look in their eyes), and then combine that fact with a new physio team who actually seem to be lowering the frequency of chronic banjaxing, and it actually begins to look like we have the fabled and much vaunted “squad depth”. While it is true that during the Invincibles campaign Wenger only utilised a primary core of 13 or 14 key players, that was an anomaly. Squad depth is vital, and there’s a reason that year on year, it’s the big money teams that have two, or even three great players in every position, are the ones who walk away with the honours.
This year we’re going into the season with just that. There’s been much discussion of bringing in a player to compete against or mentor Coquelin – and some will argue we have players there who can do just that. Outside of that position though we have a minimum of a couple of players in every position, along with a number of young lads chomping at the bit to break into the team and be the next big thing. The manager is going to have some headaches next season.
One of the main criticisms levelled at us over the last few seasons has been a complete inability to step up for the big games. The League Cup final and the 8-2 defeat in 2011, heavy defeats against Chelsea and Liverpool and Chelsea in the 2013/14 season, crushing first leg losses in the Champion’s league against the likes of Milan and Monaco – all of these just a few of the numerous examples of Arsenal’s capitulation against superior opposition or in high profile games against technically inferior teams. Fast forward to where we are now, and we’ve won three pieces of silverware in the last 13 months, and have beaten Liverpool, Utd and City convincingly throughout last season. It’s a little early to class this as a team that really steps up for the crunch games, but it’s certainly looking like a team which less likely to bottle it every time its neck is on the line. It looks like a team with balls.
Another playing field on which we’ve found it tough to compete in recent years has been that of finance. We’ve always been at a different tier to the likes of Real, Barca, and United in terms of transfers and financial clout, and more lately clubs such as Chelsea, City and PSG have suddenly become massively nouveau riche, knocking us further down the financial pecking order. We’ve had a stadium to pay for and have managed to just about compete while (impressively) maintaining our sacred Champion’s League berth and a philosophy of doing more with less. The last couple of transfer windows have really knocked that whole methodology on the head. Instead of our best players leaving us to head to these clubs, these are the clubs from which we’re buying. I think it’s perfectly realistic to regard all the six clubs I mention above as our financial peers. We’re a rich club that world class players want to play for.
When you take into account all of these factors, it becomes hard to argue against the fact that we go into next season in the best position we’ve been in for years. I fully believe this team has what it takes to lift the 2015/2016 Premier League trophy – whether we will remains to be seen.
Written by Jake Surrey. Follow him at @JakeSurrey.