Arsenal: Why 2012 Was a Year Gunners Fans Will Want to Forget
Arsenal Football Club will not be too sorry to be see the back of 2012. Despite ending last season by qualifying for the Champions League ahead of Spurs, it has been a gloomy year for Arsenal fans.
Over the next few slides we'll take a cathartic look at what went wrong for Arsenal in 2012. Arsenal's New Year's resolution will surely be to put things right and re-establish the club as a major force in 2013.
Continued Failure to Win a Trophy
I don't think even the most optimistic Arsenal fan expected them to compete for one of the major trophies on offer in 2012: the Premier League and the Champions League. Major rebuilding is required before they are able to compete at that level.
What is most disappointing, however, is that Arsenal failed to make a good stab at winning one of the supposedly smaller trophies on offer. In 2012, a limp Arsenal side went out of the FA Cup to Sunderland, and then there was the now infamous Capital One Cup defeat to Bradford. It is now approaching eight years without a trophy.
The Departure of Another Star
The loss of Robin van Persie was particularly painful for Arsenal fans. Unlike Samir Nasri, they could not argue he had left for Manchester City's millions. Unlike Cesc Fabregas, they could not console themselves with the thought that he was returning to his spiritual home. Van Persie left Arsenal because he no longer believed in their footballing ambition and potential.
Worrying for Arsenal fans, it's a trend that looks like continuing, with rumours that Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna could be off next summer.
Failure to Sell off Unwanted Players
Almost as irritating for fans as their failure to hold on to key players is their seeming inability to rid the squad of deadwood. It is the worst-kept secret that the likes of Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh and Sebastien Squillaci have been available for transfer throughout 2012, but Arsenal have failed to find a club who is able to take over their exorbitant contracts.
This has the knock-on effect of limiting Arsenal's power in the transfer market. The wage budget is taken up with players whom Arsene Wenger plainly doesn't have any use for.
Arsene Wenger has long been hailed as a great developer of young talent. Worryingly for Arsenal fans, 2012 has seen several the progression of several young talent stall.
Aaron Ramsey has become a scapegoat for the supporters, as his performances have failed to match up to his undoubted talent. Wojciech Szczesny has experienced something of a decline, whilst the failure of the manager to get the best out of Gervinho's erratic talent is frustrating fans and teammates alike.
The Atmosphere Around the Club Continues to Worsen
As each year rolls by, with more star players leaving than trophies won, the atmosphere at the club gets worse and worse.
Arsene Wenger is under more pressure than ever before, and the cracks in the relationship between supporters and manager is mirrored by an increasingly complex and dysfunctional relationship between Wenger and the board.
The narrative is seemingly repetitive, season on season. The club, the team and the manager have the whiff of stagnancy about them. Stagnation, it's worth remembering, leads to rot.