May 7, 2015

The Sweet Sound Of Progress

By Michael Clements

At this stage in seasons past it’s been a quiet run-down for Arsenal, usually conceding defeat in all competitions with the all too familiar last minute push for 4th place. Last season still provided the thrill of that race for the Champions League spot, but we had the FA Cup to look forward to, and despite our awful end to the 2013/14 Premier League season the campaign ended relatively well for us.

This year has a different feel to it - the positive summer signings, fantastic league form in 2015 to almost guarantee us that top four finish and of course another FA Cup Final. Every year we make the prediction that a couple of useful signings in the summer transfer window ‘could really push us to that next level’ - but it always seems a stretch. Of course, there’s still a handful of games to play before we call this season a success, but it already feels like we’ve made massive strides towards being a team that can compete for the title next year.

Arguably the most exciting part of Arsenal’s season is Alexis Sanchez and the different dynamic he brought to the team. A worry for Arsenal is the fact that our Chilean superstar will be playing in the Copa America during Arsenal’s summer break, which means not only did he come straight off a World Cup summer, then missed the winter break he was used to playing in Spain, but now he’s going to be playing through yet another full summer with his country. We had the same problem with Fabregas several years back when Spain played in every tournament they could get their hands on, and his form suffered for it. He was younger and more resilient back then, so bounced back quickly. Alexis is still young and has one of the highest work rates of any player I’ve watched, so if anyone can bounce back from two years with no rest, he can. 

You can’t help but cringe a little bit though - that’s a lot of football at the absolute highest level. He is human, after all (I think). That’s why it’s so important to keep building the squad depth that we did such a great job at establishing this season. Let’s assume Alexis will miss the start of the season, and chances are Walcott may not be donning the Arsenal Red & White next season either. Let’s not even discuss the Santi rumours. So what now?

Ray Parlour suggested Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton. An attractive prospect which could push Ramsey out to the wing where he’s played well before. Then of course you’ve got the blinding pace of The Ox. Chamberlain deserves an injury-free season so although the boss sees him playing a more central role eventually, he’s definitely an prospect next season. Transfer gossip is generally something I avoid due to the colossal amount of bull shit out there, but the fact that we’re so very close to challenging for the title makes this upcoming transfer window more exciting than in the past. I know, I know - “We’re just a couple of players away from perfection”. It’s cliche, but have we been lying to ourselves in previous seasons? Let’s be honest, we knew adding Alexis, Debuchy, Chambers and eventually Paulista and Welbeck was never going to make us instant title contenders. We’re that much closer this year, and our team cohesion is what excites me the most (right behind Jack Wilshere’s love for playing for this club!).

Here’s to finishing this season strong and making real, tangible progress. Bring on Swansea!

Come On You Gunners!