Since my last post, a lot of people have been drawing comparisons with recent years and are still questioning whether we are progressing as a club? As we reach the business end of the 2014/15 campaign, everyone (whether they know about football or not) seems to be starting to judge how well each team has done over the past 9 months. With Arsenal, there are two clear ways you can assess our season. There are many who believe that even if we (hopefully) go on to win the FA Cup and finish top 4 again, the team has stagnated whereas some share my view and feel the team is in a very good position regardless of what happens at Wembley.
I believe the recent winning streak of eight games in the Premier League or in all competitions (depending on how you look at it) just goes to show that we are playing, dare I say it, like Champions elect. Unfortunately, we will not win the Premier League this year but I feel we will push Chelsea close in the remaining 6 matches and can definitely challenge for the title next year. At the end of the 2014 summer transfer window, I would have thought you were mad if you had told me we would be 2nd and not that far off top in mid-April because we still desperately needed to sign an expensive defensive midfielder.
With the emergence of Francis Coquelin, I now think our first team has the perfect balance of being solid defensively and dominant going forward. For me, he just keeps getting better every match and is that world-class holding midfielder we have craved ever since Gilberto departed. Some are still not convinced but the fact we’ve only lost three matches since Christmas and Coquelin has played in most shows that he is vital to all that is good with Arsenal. Yes, we need to buy another CDM as cover because Flamini and Arteta are simply not good enough in that position but spending £20-30 Million on a top class midfielder is not necessary in my opinion.
As always, quite a few are also pondering once again if Arsene Wenger is still the man to take us forward. I have always remained resolute and forthright in my belief that the Frenchman is a genius of the highest order. He may have some flaws and blind spots but the fact is that us Arsenal fans have had more ups than downs in his 18 and a half year tenure. I am confident he has built a very good squad that can challenge on all fronts. What is clear is that the signing of Mesut Özil in Sept 2013 signalled a change, not just because the club were finally spending big money but also because a message was sent out that Arsenal mean business.
By Glen Shorey