Will Arsenal lift a trophy this year?
Every year the experts count Arsenal out, but Arsene Wenger continually has the Gunners participating in the last stages of nearly every major competition.
Despite the huge losses of Robin van Persie and Alex Song, Arsenal is shaping up to have another strong season. But which competitions do they have the best chance of winning?
During last season’s Premier League campaign, Arsenal ended up third, a whopping 19 points behind both Manchester City and Manchester United. Despite van Persie’s brilliant play, the rest of the team had a subpar year, and injuries plagued many key starters.
Although they've lost van Persie, Arsenal has gained many elite players (Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla) and will be able to field a much stronger overall squad. The team’s outcomes will no longer be solely dependent on whether Robin van Persie has a good game or not.
Manchester City and Manchester United are the two obvious favorites to win the league, along with Chelsea close behind, but Arsenal will be in the mix, and of all these clubs, Arsenal had made the most progress in the off-season. If Wenger can get the team off to a strong start (compared to last year’s horrific first few months), Arsenal could win the title.
Arsenal has qualified for the Champion’s League 15 straight seasons—they have never won. This year, they’ll probably progress deep into the play-off rounds, and after that anything can happen.
Unfortunately, Arsenal has been relatively unlucky in this tournament (remember Robin van Persie's red card against Barcelona in 2011?), and this is Europe’s hardest tournament to win.
Of all the competitions, this will be Arsenal’s most difficult, but even making the later rounds has huge financial benefits, so Wenger will prioritize progressing in this tournament above everything else, except winning the Premier League.
Between the FA Cup and the League Cup, the FA Cup is slightly more desirable, but a trophy is a trophy, and recent years have proved that Wenger has been willing to abandon his Carling Cup “bench-player strategy” (that has now been adapted by many EPL teams) in order to win. With the pressure continuing to mount, he will depend more heavily on his core starters during these tournaments in order to secure a trophy.
Many feel that the FA Cup and League Cup are Arsenal’s only hope of obtaining silverware, but they should be considered contenders in every competition.
Last year was a bad year for the club, but Arsenal still managed to end up third in the league, to reach the final 16 of the Champion’s League and to be in the League Cup quarterfinals. With a completely revamped—and healthy—team, just imagine what they can accomplish this year.