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Arsenal crash out of FA Cup to leave Champions League as their last hope of silverware
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Another trophyless season beckons for Gunners

By prolifik on February 19th, 2013 in Blow the whistle 6 comments
Another trophyless season beckons for Gunners
Pressure mounting - Wenger
Arsenal have been dealt another catastrophic blow to their hopes of bringing home some much needed silverware after a devastating home defeat at the hands of Championship side Blackburn Rovers. Arséne Wenger’s team are down in fifth place in the league, some 21 points behind the leaders Manchester United, and have been paired with last year’s finalists Bayern Munich in the Champions League knockout phase. And having been dumped out of the Capital One Cup by League 2 side Bradford City, it was looking like the FA Cup was Arsenal’s only real viable route to silverware.

But that has now fallen by the wayside following Blackburn’s shock victory at the Emirates. It is looking increasingly like Wenger will once again have no trophy in his hands come the end of the season to fend off his critics as the pressure on him steadily mounts.  

It was a fruitless display in the attacking third for Arsenal, who were unable to manufacture many clear-cut chances despite controlling the game at certain times and winning several corners. Gervinho dragged a shot wide when he probably should have scored just before the break and Olivier Giroud had an effort well saved by Rovers’ goalkeeper Jake Kean. Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky hit the crossbar for Arsenal with a curling shot just after half time and but the home team were unable to break the deadlock.  

In the 70th minute, Wenger did what he had hoped he wouldn’t have to do and sent the cavalry on. Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla all entered the fray. But shortly after things took an unexpected turn for the worst, as Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny could only palm out Martin Olsson’s shot and Colin Kazim- Richards looped the ball into the back of the net to send the away fans into a frenzy. Arsenal then began to push forward in numbers in search of an equaliser but they simply could not break through the Rovers backline. Theo Walcott had a penalty appeal turned down and then had a header well saved by Kean but in the end it was not to be for the Gunners and another season of heartache looks on the cards.

The Champions League is now their only possible route to success and that looks increasingly unlikely, given that they can’t even beat a Championship side at the Emirates. Most would make Bayern Munich favourites to progress from their knockout stage encounter. The German side were beaten finalists last season and they will have designs to rectify that in this year’s tournament and will more than likely be too strong for the Gunners over the two legs.  

So where can Arsenal go from here? They will have to recover a four point deficit to rivals Tottenham Hotspur if they are to push into the top four in the league, which is possible, given that last season they overturned a 10 point disadvantage to claim the last Champions League place. But whether they have the players or the mentality to do the same this season is up for debate. There’s no doubt that with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla in their side they still have some genuine talent in the ranks, but it could be argued they have too many average players in their line-up to mount a realistic challenge for trophies these days.  

It’s a sad decline for a team that was once invincible under Wenger’s tuition. But years of very little investment in the squad and losing their best players to rival teams have set them way back from where they once were. Plus too many of the signings Wenger has made over recent years have simply not been good enough to pull on an Arsenal shirt. The likes of Andrei Arshavin, Marouanne Chamakh, Gervinho, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker have been amongst a host of poor purchases the intellectual Frenchman has made that have really hurt the Gunners’ progress. And over time, little has been done by Wenger or his coaching staff to rectify their defensive frailties.  

This season, we’ve also seen Wenger struggle to send his team out with the right mental attitude to win games. They seem to have to go at least a goal down before they even start thinking about attacking and hurting their opponents with any real potency. The recent Chelsea game at the Emirates was a fine example of this. The Gunners were slow out of the blocks and got punished with two early goals to put the game out of their reach before the 20 minute mark. In the second half they fought back well and managed to reduce the deficit to 2-1 but it proved too much of a difficult task to overturn a two goal margin.  

Unfortunately Arsenal have really been the architects of their own downfall in many ways. They have failed to tie down some of their top players to long term deals before their contracts were soon to expire, leaving them in a position where they had to sell. This resulted in losing the likes of Samir Nasri to Manchester City and Robin van Persie to Manchester United. Both players seemed to feel like they’d have to move on to stand any chance of winning silverware. And Nasri now has a title to his name and it looks like van Persie is almost certainly going to win his first Premier League title with United.  

It must be gutting for Arsenal fans to see their top players leave in this manner and then see very little effort made to replace the talent they have lost. In the January transfer window it was rumoured that Wenger had £70 million to spend on strengthening the squad. Yet the only player they signed was Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal, who was brought in because Kieran Gibbs incurred an injury. Wenger often seems to maintain that he cannot find any players available for transfer who are actually good enough to improve the squad. And if this is the case, Arsenal are in real trouble.  

Arsenal are a club in decline. Few would disagree with that. And unless Wenger and the board suddenly decide they are willing to invest money to bring in some top quality players, Arsenal will lose their status as a Champions League club. They may then also find that they lose a few more bums on seats at the Emirates as well as more and more disgruntled supporters lose faith in their once great team.

Contributed by richbrawn1
By prolifik on February 19th, 2013 in Blow the whistle

Another trophyless season beckons for Gunners
6 responses
14 Mar, 2013
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24 Apr, 2013
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