Arsenal And Its Many Glories
By Godswill Anene.
It has been an all sowing and not reaping era for the most successful North London based football club for nine consecutive years. Fans of Arsenal FC have been worried over the club’s lack of trophy challenge over the years. It’s believed that the club itself has always been comfortable with the position of the team come the end of every season. The management was also comfortable with the monetary returns made every season that none of them were agitating for a trophy. This consecutive event made many important players leave the club in search of glory and silver-wares. The management was not concerned about the exodus of important players but instead, they were happy with the huge amount of money made from the sale of those players.
Arsenal no doubt is one of the best clubs in the world. They play a very similar pattern of tiki-taka possessive football like Barcelona only that they are made of youthful inexperienced good players. Their success over the years in spite of the trophy drought was the great input of their experienced and first grade Manager, Arsene Wenger. Arsenal were the traditional London club, haven won 13 League titles and 11 FA cups. But their failure to make an impression in the title challenge has left them second best to Chelsea.
Chelsea’s great performance over the years has placed them in the limelight forcing Arsenal to be the second best team in London. This year, Arsenal FC proved critics wrong by challenging for the English Premier League (EPL) title even though complacency made them slip from the top position they occupied for a long period beyond the expectation of many and relishing the threat as a strong contender.
The most exciting moment for the Gunners run this past season was on the 17th of May. It was a celebratory time for fans of Arsenal all over the world as their club won the FA cup in a tie that saw the North London club coming from 2 goals down to win the tie in extra time to avoid penalties. Goals from Santi Cazorla, Kosielny and Aaron Ramsey assured the Gunners their first title ending the nine-year drought. The last time Arsenal won a trophy was during the 2003/2004 season with the best record having an unbeaten run all through the 38 matches in the EPL. The squad that made that history was named the Arsenal Invincibles.
After the great achievement of the Invincibles, Arsenal went sour; going trophy-less every season in spite of the impressive possessive football. Their major target every season became the Champions League spot. They had been lucky every season to have qualified for the Champions League but they failed to make a great impression after reaching the finals and losing to Barcelona in 2006. Qualifying from the group stage has never been a problem for Arsenal but the mentality of going beyond the group stage in the Champions League has been nil. They have beaten the best of the best in Europe but have not surpassed the knockout stage in the Champions League since 2008/2009 when they lost to Manchester United in the semi-finals.
Arsenal came close to breaking the trophy-less spell in 2011; They succeeded in reaching the Carling Cup finals but lost the trophy to underdogs and minnows Birmingham City. Before the spell of trophy drought was broken, many Arsenal fans were shy to be associated with the club because they were seen as failures. But with the performance of the club this season, many were proud to fly their jerseys and the colors of Arsenal. It was indeed a rough time for fans of Arsenal over the past nine years. Their resilience and patience paid off.
Unlike other big clubs who can not stand a trophy-less season without firing their managers, Arsenal fans kept faith regardless of their skepticism of Wenger’s tactics, they were patient enough without asking for his head to be axed. Even though they queried Wenger’s pursuit of money over trophies, they kept faith supporting the club through thins and thorns and now they can relax and say, ‘it was worth the wait’.
Breaking the jinx of trophy-less seasons was a great achievement for Wenger as he said that it was a turning point as he hoped to bring more trophies to the Emirate Stadium again. Wenger who currently has signed a 3-year extension of his contract as Manager, promised to be busy in the transfer market to bring in key players to fortify the squad for greater challenge as he looks forward to winning the EPL title after 10 years.
Arsenal’s FA cup win over Hull city ending the trophy drought and their Champions League qualification, made it a great season for them and a relief to their worried fans all over the world. They have indeed made a statement with breaking the trophy-less spell.