One year ago, today: Arsenal had just come out of another transfer window where we lost our captain and arguably our second best player, these players obviously being van Judas and Song respectively. The player bought to replace the previous Premier League’s top goal scorer had not yet scored a goal in Arsenal colors, and we had also failed to replace our primary defensive midfielder.
The season looked grim, but there were positives in that Arsene had seemingly finally ended his policy of buying young players; Arsenal had signed three major international players; and we seemingly had a good squad.
Over the course of the season there were many ups and downs. From being eliminated from two domestic cups by lower league teams, to beating the eventual champions of Europe away. In the end, the mighty Arsenal went on a large run of games unbeaten to top the Spuds and clinch Champions League football once more.
Going into the summer, it seemed that Arsenal just needed a few additions in key areas. We heard stories of a £70 million transfer budget and this was essentially confirmed when, early in the summer, Ivan Gazidas came out and said that Arsenal FC was entering an era in which they could compete with top teams, both in monetary and footballing terms.
The fans were excited to see what kind of super quality signings our team would make over the summer: the names were mouthwatering. Lars Bender, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria, Adil Rami, Julio Cesar, and more were linked, but didn’t move anywhere in the end. Then gooners were forced to watch the likes of Jovetic, Higuain, Luis Gustavo be “having a medical” or be “about to sign for Arsenal”, only to go elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the only signing Arsenal had made thus far in the window was 20 year old Yaya Sanogo from Ligue 2. It seemed that fans were divided. You were either very optimistic or very pessimistic, with many optimists diffusing to the pessimistic side slowly over the course of the summer. I am proud to say I was an optimist. Of course, at times I worried, but I always had faith that Wenger would deliver. He had to have a plan, the small group of optimists were sure of it. So sure to the point, where I even bet my Gunner loving mom $100 that Arsenal would sign a super quality player before the window closed (which will now be spent on an Ozil jersey).
Deadline day came with our only two signings being free transfers. However, in the end we brought in a goalie and a world class player, Mesut Ozil. I won’t do an in depth analysis of our summer because that has been done a few times already on this site, but I felt a quick recap of this past year was in order. Now let’s check in on the five main reasons we should be optimistic about this season.
- 1. We have a complete squad!
This current Arsenal squad can field two full line ups when everyone is fit.
And even with these two line ups we’re still leaving out the likes of Fabianski, Frimpong, Diaby, Park, Gnabry, Ryo, and Bendtner who are all first team players, as well as young players who could make the step up to the first team, at some point during the season. All of these players will allow for competition for places, cover for injuries, and challenges for all trophies available to us. Arsenal has a fairly deep squad and that is something that most people will agree on, especially since we are still rumored to have £40 million to spend in January.
- 2. Most of the team had a full pre-season!
For the first time in a while players like Jack and Rosicky had full pre-seasons and are fit and ready to go for the new season. This has allowed the squad to gel while being together in foreign places and this has helped contribute to reason number three. Overall, pre-season was very positive for us with Giroud finding scoring form and our defenders gaining better understanding with each other. Pre-season also contributes to point number five by allowing our youngsters to show their stuff. Expect to see a better understanding between the boys this season as we have kept our core squad together with a full pre-season to learn from each other and gel.
- 3. The team has good spirit!
The squad this year seems to have a togetherness that not many teams have. This can partially be put down to the few new additions and no major first team departures allowing our current squad to gel, while quickly accepting our new signings. The end of the North London Derby highlighted this perfectly. For the last five minutes of the game Arsenal buckled down and defended as a team and kept Arsenal’s lead. As the final whistle blew, not only did the fans and players on the field go crazy, the bench went crazy too. The substitutes, used and unused were on the field genuinely thrilled with the victory. This squad wants to win, but not only that, they want to win together. There are no selfish players in this squad.
This is a team of experienced and young players, but all are mature and ready to win trophies. This is a squad that is growing around a young English core with small pockets of Spaniards, Frenchmen, and now Germans forming. However, the most important thing is that they are growing around a very ingrained philosophy that has been around for years and steady management and coaching that continues to work with our players and help them grow. It’s important that this squad doesn’t undergo too many changes in players or coaches over the next few years as this squad grows together and Wenger understands this. Let’s hope this spirit grows within the squad and helps us win trophies sooner rather than later.
- 4. The team is off to a good start!
Aside from an unlucky opening day loss (that no one wants to relive), Arsenal are off to a fantastic start. They have easily gotten through the Champions League qualifiers and have secured victory over Fulham and a key victory over the Spuds. The previous three factors have all attributed to this one and not much more can be said other than Arsenal have only lost one game in the past six months. Now let’s keep up that streak. COYG!
- 5. The future is still bright!
And of course, we save one of the most important (and one of my personal favorites) for last. Many of you know of my love for Arsenal’s young players, especially young Zelalem. I believe that this will be the breakthrough season for many of Arsenal’s youngsters. Gnabry and Zelalem have all been seen on the bench on many occasions already this season, and it’s only a matter of time before Ryo joins them and they start getting chances in games. I think all three will feature heavily in the domestic cups, with sporadic substitute appearances to prove themselves in the Premier League, and maybe even late substitutions in the Champions League. I also expect Akpom to get a few chances in the Capital One Cup, as well as Bellerin and maybe even Eisfeld or Olsson. Overall, expect some shining cameos from all of our youngsters especially Gnabry, Ryo, and Zelalem.
These five points are just a few reasons to be excited about this season and seasons to come. Now that the transfer window has closed it’s time to really get behind the boys and support the team with everything we have. COYG!
Thanks for reading! 😀
Written by: Dylan.