We’re currently at a crucial juncture in the football season, having got through the first six months of the season but with plenty more still to play for in the remaining three months. For Arsenal the final three months could still go either way. There’s potential for the season to still be a successful one, the most successful for years even, but it could still equally turn to disaster.
But would exactly would constitute a successful season for Arsenal? They could finish the league season third, and potentially, if the stars align perfectly, maybe even second. They could very realistically defend their FA Cup crown and could hypothetically still go all the way in the Champions League. On the other end of the scale, failure to qualify for the Champions League and elimination in the next round of each cup would be a near catastrophe given the increase in transfer net spend in recent years and the improvements of the squad. Of course, the most likely season outcome will be something in between those extremes, but just where the line that separates successful and failure is makes for an interesting debate.
In the Premier League qualification for the Champions League has become the bare minimum of expectations. The only season result where Arsenal could finish 5th and below and I’d be happy is if we won the Champions League, meaning qualification for next years competition and the joy of winning the biggest club trophy around. I wouldn’t be disappointed with a 4th place finish, as long as there are signs of improvement and promise to push on, which I think there have been so far – how convincing we are in the rest of the season will play a factor. I would however, be slightly disappointed to finish below either Man United or Southampton, the former of whom haven’t impressed me and the latter of whom have considerably less resources at their disposal.
Arsenal haven’t progressed beyond the last 16 of the Champions League for four seasons and with the rarity of a favourable draw this time around it’s imperative Arsenal make at least the quarter finals this time around, to try and show they’re up around Europe’s elite. Progression to the semi’s or further, along with a fourth place finish in the league would qualify for a very good season for me. Whether Arsenal can get beyond the last eight is debatable, but you never know what can happen if you get a favourable draw, peak at the right time and others don’t.
In the FA Cup Arsenal have a tough draw away to Manchester United, where they haven’t won for 9 years. Elimination at the next round wouldn’t be a surprise but Arsenal have never been better equipped to beat United on their own patch and should they do it they’ll be in a strong place to win the cup with Liverpool the only other heavy hitters still in the competition. The cup is still third on the list of priorities for Arsenal this season, but there’s no doubt winning it again would be a significant achievement. After no trophies in nine years, Arsenal could genuinely argue they’ve turned a corner with three in a year.
All things considered, the following scenarios and better would all constitute a successful season in my eyes.
Premier League: 4th
Champions League: Last 8
FA Cup: win
CL: Last 8
FA: Last 8
CL: Last 4
FA: Last 8
Finishing 4th in the league and going out in the last eight of both knockout competitions would likely constitute a middling season for me. How we play in the final months would probably determine how happy I’d be with that.
Arsenal have had big ups and downs this season, but it’s still very much on for them to have a good year. With the increasing financial power at the club, there’s no reason to believe that if a successful season is achieved we can’t aim higher next year. The building blocks are in place for a potential shot at one of the two big prizes next season if things go swimmingly until August.
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