Arsenal: Premier League Underachievers?


If there’s one word I could use to describe Arsenal post-Invincibles era, it would be “underachieving”.

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And as yet another season has passed without them hoisting the Premier League trophy above their heads, it isn’t hard to justify using it. Sure, there are many positive qualities that the team possesses. They have a wide array of world-class players at their disposal. They have a talented mind in Arsene Wenger at the helm. They play some of the most attractive football in the beautiful game.

But still, there is a constant knock against Arsenal that they just can’t get the job done when it matters most. Last season perfectly illustrates this theory that Gunners fans and neutrals both share.

Arsenal were in the driver’s seat for much of the 2013-2014 campaign, having been top of the league for 128 days in total – more than any other team during that season. They stayed atop the Premier League summit until early January, when the rather predictable post-Christmas collapse began to kick in.

Eventually, Manchester City overtook first place and went on to become champions for the second time in as many years. Again, it is that inability to close out the season that cost Arsenal the chance to win their first Premier League trophy in nine years. Year after year, the team would be challenging for the title in the first half of the season, but would start to fade during the run in. It was becoming a story that was all too familiar to supporters.

But that was then.

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This season was supposed to be different from that one, or so every fan of the club (including myself) thought. The excuses used to justify the team’s failures in previous seasons would no longer be considered acceptable. The stadium debt has nearly been paid off, which means the club no longer needs to sell its best players in order to remedy its financial burden.

On the contrary, the club has begun to spend big on top-notch players. The arrivals of Mesut Ozil and more recently Alexis Sanchez, has given a renewed sense of optimism to fans that have longed for the acquisition of such high caliber players. Having two proven winners in the squad was supposed to help instill a winning mentality in a team that hasn’t won much in an exasperatingly long time.

For the first time in a long time, many considered this squad to be one that could legitimately challenge the likes of United, City and Chelsea for the right to be named champions of England. Instead, Arsenal fell by the wayside, finishing in third place. Yet again, a team that many thought had a lot to offer, offered very little when it mattered most. Once more, the breakthrough that everyone hoped would come did not.

This season did not go as planned, but perhaps next season will be different. Perhaps with a few reinforcements and a little more belief, Arsenal can win the title. Only then will they be able to shed their status of always being the bridesmaid, and never the bride.

Next: Nacho Monreal sellable?

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