Ranking Arsenal's 5 Biggest Regrets This Season
A sensational start in the Premier League this season raised hopes for Arsenal players and fans alike; however, the North London side have now followed their traditional downward spiral as the league reaches its climax.
Looking back on the season, if achievements are to fall short once more, manager Arsene Wenger will surely have many regrets. Now ostensibly out of the race for the Premier League title, the Frenchman will have to content himself with a potential FA Cup win as his side continue to disappoint.
Many factors, some out of Wenger's control, have contributed to another regretful term for the club.
Here is the definitive ranking of Arsenal's five biggest regrets this season.
5. Losing Theo Walcott to Injury
Coming in at number five is the loss of Theo Walcott to injury.
The England forward was stretchered from the field of play after catching his studs in the turf as Arsenal were closing out an impressive 2-0 FA Cup Third Round victory at home to rivals Spurs.
According to Arsenal's official site, Walcott was ruled out for six months with a "ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee." The injury would rule the 24-year-old out for the remainder of the season, as well as England's World Cup campaign.
Prior to his injury, Walcott was in sensational form. As per Squawka, the winger had scored five goals in 13 appearances and created 23 chances for his team-mates, including four assists.
Whilst Arsenal are blessed with myriad attacking midfield options, Walcott's fast, direct wing play offers Wenger's side with a different outlet, and the side have struggled since his layoff.
4. Losing the Big Games
Perhaps the biggest factor in Arsenal's presumably failed title bid, and fourth in this list, is the club's losses against their direct rivals.
These six-pointers may well hold great sway in how the Premier League title race will end up, and losing against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in the league this season has greatly affected Arsenal's chances.
The North London club now sit in fourth place in the Premier League table, three points off third-placed Manchester City and having played two more games; Liverpool are now five points clear of the Gunners, whilst Chelsea boast a seven-point lead over their London rivals.
These results, a 6-3 loss away to Manchester City—a result which somewhat flatters Arsenal's poor performance—a 5-1 loss at Liverpool, and most recently a 6-0 defeat at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge, will likely have mentally affected the Gunners more than anything in their title charge.
3. Ozil's 'Impact'
Third in this list is the signing, and subsequent muted impact, of German playmaker Mesut Ozil.
Whilst Ozil's signing hasn't been a complete failure, his impact on the club's fortunes hasn't quite aligned with the magnitude of his transfer fee.
As per Squawka, the midfielder has scored four goals in 22 league appearances so far, a poor return for such a large expenditure; however, the German has created 63 chances in that period, including eight assists.
Intended to be the catalyst for an earnest title charge, Ozil has somewhat suffered under the weight of expectation at the club, seen not least following his soft penalty miss in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.
Whilst remaining an important player for the club, Ozil's impact hasn't quite been what was perhaps expected by many of the Arsenal faithful.
2. Not Signing a Forward
Surely top of Arsene Wenger's list of summer transfer priorities, and second in this list of regrets, is the failure to sign an established forward option for this season.
Frenchman Olivier Giroud, starting the season admirably, has struggled of late under the weight of pressure, being the club's only dependable strike option. Danish maverick Nicklas Bendtner continues to confound Wenger's faith in him, whilst new signing Yaya Sanogo has struggled with injury, and he remains to raw a talent to consistently deliver.
As per Squawka, Giroud has scored 13 goals in 30 league appearances so far this season, most of which came in an impressive period at the start of the season.
However as the season wears on so does Giroud, and the 27-year-old ex-Montpellier man has visibly tired as Arsenal's only established striker.
Last year, BBC Sport reported Arsenal's interest in then-Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain, and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, whilst the club famously failed in a £40-million-plus-£1 bid for Liverpool's Luis Suarez in July—much to the chagrin of the Anfield club's owner, John Henry.
Each of these forwards has been in exceptional form this season, and they would surely have aided Arsenal's title bid immeasurably.
1. Aaron Ramsey's Injury
No. 1 on this list of season's regrets is the loss of another player to injury: Welsh midfield dynamo Aaron Ramsey.
The 23-year-old was in sensational form in the first half of the Premier League season, contributing hugely to Arsenal's impressive start; with Ramsey in the side, Arsenal won two thirds of their fixtures and quickly climbed the table.
As per Squawka, Ramsey scored eight goals in 18 league appearances for the club, and made six assists.
However, the midfielder hasn't featured for the club since the end of December, and Arsenal's form has been affected hugely by this loss.
Whilst Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky have contributed in patches in his absence, none have had the impact that the Welshman had earlier in the season.
Ramsey's injury has directly affected the form of Olivier Giroud also and, as detailed in the previous slide, the Frenchman has suffered without the support which Ramsey invariably provided.
Near a return to full fitness, Arsenal will be looking to Ramsey to produce the magic that he conjured in the early stages of the season as the North London club look to salvage a flagging league campaign.
Do you agree with this ranking? What will be Arsenal's biggest regret this season? Make your opinion heard in the comments below.