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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Could this Finally Be the Year of The Arsenal?

Santi Cazorla and Podolski celebrates
Arsenal are looking good, really good. Their 6-1 thumping of League One strugglers Coventry City in the Capital One Cup (League Cup) on Wednesday night saw the Gunners continue their fine start to the season. They have not lost a match in all competitions thus far.

The Premier League may still be at its infant stages with only five matches played at the time of writing this article but Arsenal’s start has been far more impressive than the sorry start they had last season. In five matches last season, Wenger’s men were sitting 17th, a point shy of the relegation zone, having lost three matches, won one and drawn the other one. They had a -8 goal difference having conceded a massive 14 goals, 8 of them against Manchester United and 4 against Blackburn Rovers who were to be relegated come season end.

The Emirates seat had never been hotter for manager Arsene Wenger with many pundits declaring his time to end his 16 year spell in the club had come. The inevitable loss of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona was compounded by the departure of Gael Clichy to Manchester City and it was no surprise then that many voices were calling for his departure including Rwanda President Paul Kagame, an ardent Gunners supporter.

But little by little, they got right back in, thanks mainly to the 30-goal man Robin Van Persie. That Arsenal had rallied back from relegation candidates to Champions League qualifiers come end of the season called for celebration. No one would refer to the fact that they had finished yet another season, the 7th in a row, without a trophy.

But could this be the season when Arsenal finally put a trophy to that Emirates cabinet which has been empty since the 2004-05 FA Cup was added? And just which trophy will that be?

The Champions League, which the London side has never won, may still be a long shot considering that you have clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all gunning for it. Methinks they are still some light years behind those clubs to topple any of them if, and only if, they reach the final which will be played at Wembley on May 25, 2013.

That leaves them with the domestic cups. Their start to the Premier League this season has been good enough. They have gotten off the blocks with the form or real title contenders. With two wins (including a 2-0 victory away to Liverpool), three draws (one of them against Champions Manchester City) and no loss, they are sitting comfortably in 5th place with 9 points, four behind leaders Chelsea who they tackle on matchday 6.

Summer signings Santi Carzola and Lukas Podolski are fast making the departure of Van Persie to Manchester United forgettable. Gervinho is improving, Theo Walcott looks ready to commit his football career to Arsenal, Oxlade Chamberlin continues to mature and Abou Diaby is fitting well into Alex Song’s boots. The return of Jack Wilshere will be tantamount to a new signing. These players will be key if Arsenal are to put a serious title charge.

The comfortable 6-1 win over Coventry City in the League Cup which was largely expected earned them a date away to Reading in the fourth round. A win for the Gunners against the team that conquered Everton in the third round will take them to the last eight, and ever closer to a trophy.

The FA Cup doesn’t start for them until 5th January 2013, a time in which the league would have started to take shape. Where will Arsenal be?

There is no doubt that this season might as well be Arsene Wenger’s last chance to bring a trophy to the Emirates after a seven-year – and counting – drought. Judging by the start they have had in all competitions, it may be advisable not to bet against that happening.

Failure to bring silverware will see the club’s owners and fans run out patience and resolve that Le Professeur’s departure is indeed in the best interest of all the parties. Or better yet, Mr. Wenger himself may decide to end his 16-year relationship with club, at least for now. A return for a man who has won 3 Premier League and 4 FA Cup titles is always more likely than not.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!