Arsenal is having an uncharacteristic season that somehow feels too familiar. They improved and addressed issues that have haunted them in the past decade, but in finding solutions have faltered where they excelled in the past. A team that has typically been overrun by ‘top 4’ teams has lead the pack when you see the points for the head to head table of the top 5 teams this season. Though, the premier league title is a 20 horse race, not a 5 horse race. It’s an awesome experience to beat the likes of Leicester, Manchester City, and Man United but those victories are nullified by dropping too many points to mediocre teams.
Many Arsenal supporters have been patiently waiting for Arsenal to finally take the last crucial step in a title challenging season, even before faltering teams like Chelsea, Man United, and Liverpool had their seasons take shape. Few excuses can be accepted by supporters. The fiscal hardships Arsenal have self-imposed by funding their own stadium are no longer a viable excuse for their failings in the EPL and in Europe. With major investments in Özil and Sánchez as milestones of intent, it’s grueling to watch Wenger’s experimental lineups so lackluster.
It’s always been a thorn in Wenger’s side having injury dismantle his *best XI* and this season is no exception. The players accustomed to being sidelined like Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby (best of luck to you in Marseille!), Walcott, etc. have had typical spells injured but it was the pivotal two in the center of the park of Cazorla and Coquelin both getting injured around the same time that proved to be such a jarring disruption. The bastardized combination of Flamini + Ramsey (Ramsini?) or Coquelin + Ramsey (Ramcoq!) simply didn’t provide the right balance. Finding balance in this Arsenal of late has felt like a cannon-shaped teeter totter contraption with a sick bed on one side and a horde of ‘Wenger out’ banners on the other.
There have been
some plenty of positives this season and lots of hope for the end of this season as well as the next one. Some of the positives: the emergence of Iwobi, promising form of late by Welbeck, consistent performances of Bellerín and Monreal, excellent performances by Campbell, the signing of Elneny, making it to the knockout stages of the Champions League, and more. Though there is still a lot of playing to do this season, Arsenal really should be looking back over its shoulder and chuckling rather than flailing to catch up to Tottenham and Leicester City. As ever, it’s the hope that kills you but this has already shaped to be a fascinating Arsenal season and I’ll be watching the title race with gusto.