Arsenal fans must feel like they are suffering from another case of Déjà vu. With all the early season optimism of a title race and the outside chance of Arsenal being crowned Premier League champions since 2003/04 the gunner’s season has taken a familiar path and the Arsenal fans now find themselves looking over their shoulder at Everton in 5th.
Everton now sit just 6 points behind Arsenal and not only do they have a game in hand on the North Londoners but they also welcome Arsenal to Goddison park next weekend, and if results go their way (Arsenal play Manchester City this week while Everton face Fulham) could even leap frog the Gunners into the champions league places at the start of April. So although this is all talk at the moment it is still worth looking at where it all went wrong for Arsenal this season and how they put things right to challenge again in the future.
Now we don’t want this to sound all doom and gloom for Arsenal fans, there is of course the small matter of an FA Cup semi-final in April as well and that competition represents the best hope of ending their 9 year trophy drought but the draw against Swansea this week almost certainly brought an end to their Premier League hopes and here’s a couple of reasons why.
Although it is sometimes too easy to point to injuries when a club begins to struggle and some Arsenal fans would argue that if the club had invested more wisely in the summer and winter transfer windows then injuries to key players wouldn’t have had such an impact but it is worth considering nonetheless.
In recent months/weeks Arsenal have been effected more than most by injuries and it could be argued that a Liverpool side without Suarez, as well as Gerrard and Henderson sidelined and Coutinho injured as well would also struggle to compete as they have done. And that can be applied to most top teams not only Liverpool, Arsenal have had 4/5 first team players unavailable in recent weeks and so it is no surprise this has coincided with a dip in form as well as players admitting to feeling ‘tired’ against Swansea on Tuesday.
Performances Against Tops Sides
There can be no hiding from this fact for Arsenal fans, and it has not only been this season that Arsenal have struggled against sides nearest to them in the table. This season Arsenal have taken just 5 points from other clubs in the Top 5 of the league, the same amount of points as they took against the same opposition last season although Arsenal still have Manchester City and Everton to play again this campaign. Back in 2009/10 Arsenal’s record against top teams was even worst as they took just 4 points from 8 games against their nearest rivals, losing twice to both Chelsea and Manchester United and finishing 11 points adrift of the pair in the league.
These results against rival title chasers are hugely important and must be improved if Arsenal want to challenge next year. Taking the 2009/10 season as an example again, if Arsenal had won the four games that they lost against Chelsea and Manchester United they would have been crowned champions that season instead of finishing so far off the pace in 3rd. That is also the case this year and if Arsenal’s results against the Top 5 teams are removed the club would still be joint top of the league, showing the important of results against the top teams.
The Need For More Firepower
The last point won’t come as a surprise to most football fans as Arsenal’s need for another striker was evident both last summer and again in the winter transfer window. Wenger has mentioned signing a top striker only if he finds the right candidate but this campaign has shown that 1 striker is not enough to keep up a title challenge for a whole season. Giroud has performed his role well but has only scored 13 times in the Premier League and no other Arsenal player has reached double figures, compare this to Liverpool who have free scoring Suarez and Sturridge who have scored just 7 goals less than Arsenal as a team and you can see why Arsenal need to strength up front if they are to compete again anytime soon.