All Guns Blazing: No excuses for Arsenal in a season of frustration
PUBLISHED: 11:03 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:03 12 May 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Nothing beats the moment when you see your club lifting trophies and the joyous celebrations that follow are memories which last a lifetime.
It is hard to begrudge Leicester’s players and fans basking in the glory of their wonderful achievement.
But everyone associated with Arsenal should be looking at it with a sense of disappointment, regret, bitterness and immense frustration.
Because the 2015/16 season has been a complete disaster and there are no excuses or mitigating circumstances that can be put forward to mount a defence.
The Premier League will be entering an unprecedented situation with unclearness surrounding several clubs.
How will Pep Guardiola adapt to English football at Manchester City? Can Antonio Conte mount a renaissance at Chelsea? Will Jurgen Klopp make Liverpool genuine contenders? Who will be Manchester United manager? Are Spurs now the best team in London?
At Arsenal, the feeling around the Emirates is undoubtedly the worst in Arsene Wenger’s tenure. Following the attempted protest during the Norwich match, fights allegedly broke out between supporters at the Etihad on Sunday.
Some of the ill-will towards Wenger has been nasty and unwarranted regardless of our position. Fans have a right to voice an opinion but, once it becomes abusive and aggressive, the arguments are void.
But make no mistake, there is plenty to be upset about.
What positives can be taken from this year? Hector Bellerin’s emergence as the best right-back in the league, certainly. Mohamed Elneny’s solid introduction, maybe. Alex Iwobi’s surprising breakthrough, perhaps.
Other than those examples, the highlights are few. The blistering opening 20 minutes at home to Man United was memorable. The controlled, disciplined 3-0 win away to Olympiacos and the hard-fought victory over Bayern Munich felt like important moments.
But that is all really and in the context of the whole season, they were meaningless.
There was a remarkable stat which showed Arsenal have had spells on top of the league in recent seasons in every month, apart from April and May, ie: the weeks which matter most.
It’s no good claiming you can win the title in August when you’ve consistently faltered by March.
But it typifies the club as a whole really – all talk and very little action.
No one can argue Leicester’s squad is superior to Arsenal’s. But their group of players showed a level of hunger and character seldom seen at the Emirates.
How are the likes of Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson, journeymen at best until now, better able to handle pressure than their Arsenal contemporaries? It defies belief when you consider the acclaim players like Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey receive.
Sunday’s final match of the season against Aston Villa should see Arsenal seal at least third place, possibly second, in the league. A ‘lap of honour’ will follow at the end of the match but the reception will be lukewarm.
One wonders what discussions are taking place between Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis as they review the season. Because this campaign can’t be repeated. It was unbecoming of a club which likes to regard themselves as elite.
The failings were vast and clear for all to see and something must be done to get disillusioned fans back on side.