This was a season which promised a lot but yielded nothing for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Much of the preseason talk was focused on how Arsenal might be dethroned from the "Big Four." These opinions were quickly silenced as the Gunners started the season brightly. Expectations rose, and so did the pressure.
Eventually, the all too familiar story of injuries, lack of depth, and lack of experience were exposed for all to see.
Same old story, same old result—and most worryingly, we're back to square one.
Sometimes stagnation is worse than going backwards. While Arsenal have made progress in many areas on the field, they have the same old problems come close season. Another marquee player wants to leave and, knowing Wenger, he will let him leave. This provides him with yet another excuse, albeit valid, for another failure next season.
Arsenal have stagnated for five years. If anyone calls me spoilt, please read my articles on this website before suggesting so. This season has, in fact, sucked out every little bit of positivity I had about the strategy that Arsene Wenger had adopted, and he still sticks to with so much conviction.
While it's fine to watch young players pass oppositions off the park, it's quite an experience to watch them play Barcelona at Nou Camp and get humbled.
When Arsenal failed last season, the infamous Q & A session took place where Wenger stated unequivocally that he will revisit his strategy if Arsenal fail to win anything again in the 2009-10 season.
If he's true to his word, he should be doing a major re-think right about now.
Unfortunately, I don't see that happening when I see quotes like this which Wenger made at the end of this season:
"We have plenty of young players. If we bring some players in then they have to be experienced players.
?I think we have been in the race this year with the team we had. We will be stronger next year just with the internal improvement and with the experience these players will have now. The additions will be minimal but if there are some they have to be really top class."
What this basically means is: "We will sign only a couple of more players, MAXIMUM."
Let's be honest, if Cesc Fabregas leaves, and that looks like it's a question of "when" rather than "if," the squad will need some surgery. As it is, the first choice goalkeeper is simply not good enough. The defense will need a fairly major investment if both William Gallas and Sol Campbell leave. The midfield will still need some quality in terms of depth—Arsenal looked very exposed without Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas towards the end of the season.
While the starting eleven of Arsenal has always been good enough to beat any team, it's the depth which has been tested and has failed regularly in the past few seasons.
While Arsenal PLC has made profits for the past five years, the football club has just stood still. Every year we're told that there's money available and yet, we see no tangible outlay on players. Every year we're told that the team will win the next season only to see a collapse.
Fans are intelligent. They will be patient as long as the reasons given for failure appear reasonable. Right now, however, Wenger can only give excuses.
Whether Cesc Fabregas leaves or not, this Arsenal squad needs some additions. These additions will transform into minor surgery if the captain does end up leaving.
Maybe it's Wenger’s ego or maybe it's the Board, but something has clearly not been right at Arsenal for a while now.
Most Arsenal fans love Arsene Wenger—I'm certainly one of them. Without him, Arsenal might not be the club they are today. However, there comes a point when you have to say "enough is enough."
Forget the numbers, as they are becoming insignificant in any case.
A football club's primary purpose is winning on the pitch. If that's not happening, then it might be time for a change.
Unfortunately for Wenger, his gamble of not signing some cover for Vermaelen and Gallas early on in the season, and someone to genuinely cover for Robin van Persie, cost him dear.
The gamble has led to major repercussions and now his captain looks set to leave the Club. This might well prompt Wenger to change his long-term strategy of building a team with an average age of 21.
If he doesn't, the time might well have come for him to bid adieu to the Club which he has undoubtedly taken to uncharted heights.