The pressure was elevated on Arsene Wenger’s position at Arsenal after the club’s failure to win a trophy last season, while supporters were forced to watch Leicester City come out of nowhere to win the Premier League. The Gunners have gone 12 years without winning the top-flight crown, and had endured nine seasons without winning a major competition until they defeated Hull City in 2014 to win the FA Cup.
Arsenal’s triumph gave Wenger breathing room, although his side were blown away by Chelsea in race for the Premier League crown in the 2014-15 season. Back-to-back wins in the FA Cup ensured that the club ended the campaign on a high note by crushing Aston Villa, somewhat appeasing supporters.
The tipping point for Gunners fans neared last term when Wenger’s men surrendered top spot to Leicester following a poor run in the second half of the season, allowing the Foxes to win the English top flight for the first time in their history.
The Frenchman’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he will be determined to extend his stay at the Emirates. In the latest FA Cup betting odds Arsenal are backed at 8/1 to win the cup for the third time in four years, but should it be the club’s only success it may not satisfy their supporters.
Discontent was evident in the opening match of the campaign when the Gunners fell 4-1 behind against Liverpool. Boos echoed around the Emirates, with Wenger saved from a torrent of abuse by his team’s late comeback, although it fell short in the end in a 4-3 defeat. Due to their struggles at the back in their loss Wenger was pressed into action to sign Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia for £35m, just weeks after the Frenchman reportedly passed on the chance to sign the Germany international in a £20m deal.
Mustafi is a player on the rise, but unless he improves significantly alongside Laurent Koscielny he does not provide an upgrade from compatriot Per Mertesacker. Arsenal have been one of the best defensive outfits in the Premier League in recent seasons, but have often struggled in the critical moments, especially towards the end of their pursuits of silverware.
Unless the Gunners break the trend then their dreams of winning the Premier League as well as the Champions League will go unrequited, forcing them to settle for the lesser of the trophies. The main demand from Arsenal supporters over the summer was for a new striker to lead the line. Olivier Giroud notched 16 goals in the top flight last season, but his 15-game drought in the second half of the campaign played a pivotal role in the club’s failure to win the title.
Jamie Vardy rejected the move to the Emirates, while, despite outcry for the addition of Riyad Mahrez, the Gunners were not able to muster a strong enough pull for his signature, leading to the Algerian penning a new deal with Leicester.
Wenger did bolster his strikeforce with the signing of Lucas Perez from Deportivo, but it was not the big name on the lips of Arsenal fans. The Spaniard has entered into double figures only once in the scoring column in his career, which fails to match up with the business performed by Chelsea and Manchester United who added Michy Batshuayi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their respective frontlines.
The FA Cup is a fine competition to win and would satisfy many fanbases across the country. However, for a team like Arsenal who have fallen short repeatedly in their quest for greater while continuing to make the same mistakes, lifting the trophy at Wembley may not be able to save Wenger this time around as his squad looks good, but not good enough for a title challenge.