Thursday, 31 December 2015

THE ARSENAL: 2015 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL



Reflecting on 2015 for the Arsenal it is always worth looking at context. The second half of the 14/15 season saw a procession to the title from Abramovitch's minions and smug condescension from the self anointed 'Special one'. Chelsea had deservedly won the title and the rest of us so called big clubs had our own issues to deal with: having said that the Arsenal put in a top drawer performance to retain the FA Cup, a highlight being that Alexis Sanchez goal: a true Wembley Cup Final classic. This proved that we have a group of players who can win things and that the FA Cup 2014 wasn't just a one off. 


That winning habit continued with the return to Wembley and a 1-0 victory over the champions in the Community Shield. This was a sweet victory not only because we had their ex goalkeeper between the sticks but it was the first sign that things were awry at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho's attention seeking display at the end of the game was a sign of things to come. Talking of Petr Cech he has certainly shown himself to be a very smart purchase. The fact that we made no other summer signings was certainly a talking point for the first couple of months of the season and our injury hit squad have risen to the challenge to end the year at the top of the table.


Belerin's ascendancy and Monreal's consistency have added a stability along with an attacking threat and Mesut Ozil is producing displays of real authority. Walcott apears rejuvenated and Giroud, despite the critics, is scoring on a regular basis. This set of players appear to have character and tenacity and a good deal of bouncebackability.

Some would rightly say that this current season is possibly proving to be the most unpredictable season in memory: the troubles at Old Trafford, Chelsea's demise, Liverpool's ongoing transition, Man City's inconsistency, Tottenham's defensive stability, Leicester's merited success and the newcomers taking points from all sort of unexpected fixtures. If this is a strange season then lets take advantage of that. I for one don't care about potential perceptions of a league triumph in May, being champions is being champions and we have as good a chance as anyone.


So we leave 2015 behind on top of the table, looking forward to the third round of the FA Cup and a huge task against Barcelona in the Champions League, Sanchez, Wellbeck, Carzola, Coquelin, Wilshire, Rosicky and Areta to come back and bolster the squad (not to mention any additions in the transfer window) and a team that have shown in the calender year that they have what it takes.


We've seen victories over Manchester United and Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich and in recent years we have come up short against these type of opponents so we should take positives from these statistics. And what of Arsene Wenger? I retain my reservations. I think that the Champions League is best attempted by another manager but the Premier League title is within sight and if we can't win that what about a third FA Cup in a row? either would be a great swan song for him.

Looking forward to 2016? absolutely.

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