The summer started on a positive note for Arsenal with the club announcing the early capture of Swiss midfielder, Granit Xhaka. This early positivity would have gone one notch higher had the club been able to pull off the signing of Leicester City striker, Jamie Vardy (for the records, I didn’t want him even if I wouldn’t mind having him). This didn’t happen though, and the media capitalized on fans’ desperation for signings with headlines like ‘Arsenal is in talk with X’, ‘Y’ set to snub Arsenal to sign a new contract etc etc, all in a bid to mock the club and create a kind of division between the club and the fans.
Towards the end of the Transfer Window, the club made two critical signings in Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi. which addresses the major needs of the team. Add those to the signings of Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding and I think we are ready to go all the way this season.
Contrary to what some people might say, I think we have signed good players who will fit in quite well. Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding have both looked solid in the games they’ve featured in so far; Mustafi looked great for the German national team and shouldn’t have a torrid time bedding-in. Lucas Perez was great in a Deportivo side that narrowly escaped relegation last season and should also fit-in easily (God, please) when playing with the likes of Ozil, Alexis and Santi. They might not have cost fortunes but they are surely quality signings.
With these new signings, I think we have a team that can challenge on all four fronts. We have the strength in depth we have always clamoured for and we have a minimum of two players for each position. We can also change game style depending on the opposition we are facing. Wonderful, isn’t it?
That said, this season is one where everyone expects us to challenge considering the signings we’ve made. As Arsenal fans, we’ve come to realize that our definitions of success differs depending on the side of the divide you are. Some classify a Top 4 finish as a success. For some, anything other than a league title is a failure.
In all honesty, the team we have right now is the best we’ve assembled since The Invincibles in my opinion and whether they can lead us to the title for the first time in 12 years remain to be seen. This team would be up there challenging for the title and cup honours, that I’m sure of.
The question however is what must this team achieve to be able to classify this season a success?
Will winning the league be a success?
Simply put, yes. For a team that has not won the league since 2004, the ultimate aim would be to go one step higher than the 2nd place finish achieved last season. With this season shaping up to be the most competitive and unpredictable season ever in the history of the Premier League, a league title at the end of the season won’t be a failure. As a matter of fact, only The Invincibles’ success will rank higher.
Will winning the Champions League count as success?
Yes. We’ve been knocked out of the Champions League in the Last 16 for the past 5 seasons. In the past 20 years, we’ve only been to the semi final twice and final once. Honestly, I don’t think we can go all the way, but, that doesn’t mean I won’t mind celebrate if we eventually do it (even if it is to get the lousy Chelsea fans off our back). I’m sure a lot of people would agree with me on that.
Will winning the cups be regarded a success?
I’m not sure about this. We’ve won two FA Cups in the past three seasons and people still see those as second rated trophies. Will winning it again pacify fans who long for a league title? It might not but it’s still better than nothing regardless of whatever the media say.
Another Top 4 finish? Another finish above Tottenham? Or is it Ozil and Sanchez’s Contract Renewal?
The answer to this NO! We have finished in the Top 4 consecutively for the past 12 years. As a matter of fact, we are the only side that has not finished outside the Top 4 in the last 20 years. This is remarkable, isn’t it? But in this age of social media and for a club of the size of Arsenal, fans may no longer tolerate this. Finishing above Tottenham is not an achievement as far as Arsenal is concerned even though the media have made us believe that’s part of our season objectives. Some things are certain in life – Death, Tax and Arsenal finishing above Spurs. It just have to happen. That said, the atmosphere around the stadium will be toxic if that was all we are able to boast of come the end of the season.
With regards to what would be termed as a success for Arsenal come May, the honest truth is we will never know until later in the season. We can only wish the team well and ensure we perform our part in that success. Come On You Gooners!