Arsenal's 2011-12 campaign was certainly one of ups and downs.
It started off at rock bottom. Arsenal had lost two of their most important players in Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and with no sufficient replacements brought in, the season started in absolute disaster. A string of horrid form included a 2-0 loss at home to Liverpool, a 4-3 loss at Blackburn and of course, the 8-2 mauling from Manchester United.
It was the loss to Manchester United that provided the wake up call for Arsene Wenger, who soon after the drubbing made a number of "panic buys" on the transfer market. Call them what you want, but among those transfers were some players who became crucial to Arsenal this season–including Mikel Arteta, who was arguably the Gunners' best player after Robin Van Persie.
So if you told Gooners last August that Arsenal would end up finishing third, chances are you'd have gotten a pretty ecstatic response.
Once again, key players have departed from North London, and once again, Champions League football has been secured.
But when I look at the big picture, there is still a big issue.
As much as this past season seems like a success after the supposed "crisis" at the start of the campaign, it's a bit worrying that successful seasons are now ones that secure Champions League football. Arsenal's turnaround this season was remarkable, but it seems like Arsene Wenger has almost lowered the club's standard in recent years.
Arsenal need to be a club that consistently challenges for trophies; Champions League football should be a given.
But things are looking bright for Arsenal at the moment. Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have already been brought in this transfer window, and Santi Cazorla looks set to follow from Malaga. On top of that, Arsene Wenger is standing firm on Robin Van Persie, and seems determined to show that he can keep his key players.
Wenger usually takes his time in the transfer window, being linked to just about every player on the market, but only completing a few deals. It's been the opposite this summer, though. Wenger's been making his moves early before stating that he's not finished.
People are throwing around the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea as major title contenders for this season. But I think Arsenal are in that mix, too. They've had some of the best transfer activity of any top club so far, making quality signings that are sure to give the Gunners a push for more than just Champions League football.
In my opinion, Robin Van Persie will not leave this summer–that's because if Arsene Wenger was eager to sell him, the Dutchman probably would have been gone already in order to raise funds for his replacement. Wenger has learned his lesson about doing late dealings from last summer, so I don't see the Arsenal boss letting his captain go so late in the window. Unless a deal somehow materializes in the next couple days.
Arsenal are on the up. They've got a strong, positive squad that will only get stronger with the rest of the summer, as well as a host of promising young players rising into the first team.
Time and time again, Arsenal supporters say that this will be the season that they end their trophy drought. But with the way things are looking at the moment, this could really be their year.
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