by Thomas Penlington
In addition, Arsenal are still in the FA Cup which is the most realistic trophy possibility this season, with Premier League out of sight and the Champions' League a real challenge. Arsenal moved through to the fifth round after seeing off Brighton 3-2 after a late winner from Theo Walcott; now they face Blackburn at home who lie eighth in the championship, but have off-field troubles, although that won’t affect the game. I feel Arsenal should be able to comfortably beat Blackburn and should be really attempting to win this tournament, mainly for the fans but also for the players.
|Jack Wilshere: Arsenal's best hope?|
There is no doubt that Arsenal aren’t enjoying the best possible season so far; they lie fifth, at this point in the season, two points clear of Everton and four points behind their fierce rivals, Tottenham. They were dramatically knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Bradford on penalties and face a tough draw against last year’s finalists, Bayern Munich, in the Champions’ League. Not to mention the fact they lost their number one striker and last season’s top scorer, Van Persie, to United who have benefited wonderfully and now lie nine points clear at the top of the Premier League.
For the rest of the season Arsene Wenger faces an uphill battle to claim yet another consecutive Champion’s League spot. But perhaps this time it just won’t be enough; maybe the fans, the board and even the players will start to question whether Arsenal can still compete competitively at the top level and most importantly win trophies under Arsene Wenger. It’s great, in financial terms, to qualify for the Champions' League but since 2006 they haven’t reached the final and for the last season they were knocked out by AC Milan in the round of 16. This season they face arguably a better side than AC Milan in the form of Bayern Munich; there is no doubt Arsenal will have to be on top form to get through.
Now some positives of the season so far: they lie fifth, which isn’t the end of the world, and are only four points behind Tottenham, who can be inconsistent at times. Just qualifying for the Champions’ League wouldn’t be considered a massive triumph but more a necessity for the club. Arsene Wenger has made some good signings, such as the wonderfully talented Santi Cazorla and the promising left back Nacho Monreal; the inconsistent Giroud I feel can only get better with time and he has shown flashes of being a really good striker. These can no doubt help them to overcome Bayern Munich and I believe it is well within Arsenal’s capability to progress in the Champions’ League.
Furthermore, the question of whether Arsenal would be able to score goals without Van Persie has been answered by the in-form Theo Walcott, who seems to have stepped up to the plate this season with some great performances and vital goals, such as the hat-trick against Reading that brought Arsenal back into the game, the hat-trick against Newcastle and the vital goal against Liverpool that helped them overturn a two-nil defecit. Altogether, the team seem to be able to score many goals and this is proven in the results, for example the 5-1 against West Ham, the 5-2 against Reading, the 7-3 against Newcastle and (perhaps the sweetest) the 5-2 against rivals Tottenham.
Lastly, a big reason why the form of Arsenal has picked up since the start of the season is that the talented Jack Wilshere has returned to the midfield of Arsenal. He brings a different dimension that Diaby, Coquelin and Ramsey don’t have. He seems to be able to see that extra, better pass and make it; the way he carries the ball past defenders and eliminates midfielders from the game shows his true class. Furthermore, Theo Walcott owe him and Santi Cazorla for the goals this season due to some wonderful through-balls. The best thing about Wilshere is that he’s still only a prospect and he’s still developing as a player which means he can only get better.
Overall, I believe that, with the help of the three --- Cazorla, Wilshere and Walcott --- Arsenal can continue the run of good form, not drop too many points and win the FA Cup as well as reaching the automatic Champions' League qualifying position that is a necessity for Arsene Wenger.