Last season in the Premier League Arsenal finished fourth, 18 points behind the winners, Manchester United. They won only 20 games and drew 11 out of the 38 played.
Yet, we still managed to beat Manchester United and Chelsea when we went head-to-head, whereas this season they both pulled off the double against us, while we are doing a lot better overall (compared to last year.)
What has changed, so that now we have a real chance at pushing the top teams, and even winning the league or the UCL?
One thing that never really changes; nevertheless it has had a rollercoaster of a season.
After selling Toure, many wondered if we would fall short in a defensive aspect. But the way Toure has been performing this season for Manchester City, it would seem Wenger let go of him at the perfect time. If anything, the Verminator has done nothing but strengthened the squad.
Arsenal’s nagging defensive problem throughout the season has been at left back. With Clichy getting injured early on, leaving Gibbs and Traore, to fill in. Next Gibbs suffered from a broken foot, leaving only Traore.
Traore -third in line- proved inexperienced but overall he didn’t preform too badly. If he had been injured, leaving Silvestre to play there, we could have been been in a spot of trouble.
How does being relegated to the Championship sound? Fancy a shot at it?
Luckily, Cichy recovered well. He had a few shaky moments after he first came back, but I think he’s now returning to his reliable old ways.
Our biggest threat to our success is happening as we speak. At centre back, both Djourou and Gallas are out, Vermaelen is suspended, Campbell isn’t fit enough, and Senderos is out on loan. It would be a real shame if we stumbled now, especially since our run in was dubbed “the easiest.”
I dare not even think about the prospect of Vermaelen getting injured, or if the genius Wenger hadn’t brought in Campbell, which, could yet prove to be the masterstroke Arsenal needed to push them that little bit further.
The main reason for this season’s success is the new formation; whether it was copied off Barcelona or not, it works for the squad that we currently have. Our main strength has always been attacking. And the 4-4-2 that we played with was much too restrictive.
This season Arsenal’s chief playmakers have been let loose, the result? We are the highest scorers in the Premier League and in Europe.
Ever since Viera left, Cesc Fabregas had been stuck in defensive position, cleaning up mistakes, and not being able to express the eye for goal we all knew he had.
You felt sorry for him, he was like a bird in a cage, but this season he was set free, and look at what he has done. As a midfielder, he has scored 18 goals in all competitions; that is more than a lot of striker’s contribution in a whole year.
Wait, there’s more, other than just his goal-scoring capability, he is the life-line of Arsenal. The leader who builds up when the team is down, Cesc is a true captain, and he deserves to be.
After the horror tackle on Aaron Ramsey, when an excellent young talent’s footballing career could have been drastically cut short. Fabregas rallied his troops and we came away with three points, despite it being less important than Aaron’s welfare.
It is these characteristics that are the primary reason for our better success rate. And Fabregas has been the "mature head" of the young team.
When the Catalonian playmaker steps onto the field and does what he does, you can just feel that he is the persona, of Arsenal’s beautiful style. And you perceive that qualities such as his, are the entire reason for all the hard work Wegner has put in to make Arsenal who they are.
The maturing of Alex Song, and the strengths he possesses have been vital to this seasons success and to Fabregas. In the new 4-3-3 a holding midfielder is vital. One who can break down counter attacks and drop into defence if a defender goes forward.
And what an impression Song has made. He and Fabregas together dominate the midfield against any team (that statement will be proven right or wrong when we come up against the proven champions, Barcelona).
After all of that, I’m sure we're all glad to see that we are not just a one man show either. Arsenal have the real feeling of a team that works together. And whenever something happens, we have able replacements. Which we have been able to prove this on the big stage, which is a proof of character for the entire side.
During this season, it is in this area that has had to undergo the biggest changes.
After selling Adebayor, we were confident that some younger players could step up. But our front line was somewhat "unproven."
Bendtner had never been relied on to a large extent. And Carlos Vela had barely any experience and still doesn’t (which is a real shame, considering how he has flourished for Mexico.) One thing in our favour was, in the front three, we now only needed one, big striker instead of the two. Everything was fine and dandy until...
In a friendly, yes, you heard correctly, not a vital World Cup Qualifier, but a friendly, our main attacking firepower, in van Persie, was taken out of the equation for at least five months.
On top of that Bendtner, was also out, who is van Persie’s primary replacement. And weren’t we in a spot of trouble, even trying to play Arshavin up front. As soon as the big Dane returned, despite missing some chances that even I could have scored from, we settled back down into a more relaxed nature.
With the presence of Bendtner, being able to hold up the ball, the Russian Magician has flourished in a position he has now made his own.
Whether we win a trophy or not this season, I am more than happy about the teams strong bond to one another, their resilience and never give up attitude, even though they were written off on several occasions this season.
I don't know about you, but I am proud to say that “I love Arsenal.” The young team has shown the immense character despite innumerable setbacks, as well as showing the qualities of champions.
Everything we have seen so far this season, backs up my (and hopefully your) belief that the squad has what it takes to lift at least one trophy come May. And even if Arsenal doesn’t, they indisputably deserved to.