Arsenal finished the season on a high by securing second place in the Premier League. It was another season of ‘what ifs’ for Arsenal, a year when they could have been crowned champions only to once again falter at critical stages.
But they showed what they are capable of when they’re on song, against an already relegated Villa . Olivier Giroud who had gone 14 matches without scoring a goal in the league made it 4 in two games with his hat-trick. Mesut Ozil recorded his 19th assist of the season falling just one short of Thierry Henry’s all-time record.
Here are 5 talking points from the match
1) Giroud’s erratic form underlined Arsenal’s need for a top striker
There is no doubt Olivier Giroud is a decent striker. His hat-trick today demonstrated how good he can be when he is confident and scoring for fun. But the 14-game spell where he couldn’t manage a single goal highlights his inconsistency.
The big question now is if he is the right forward to lead Arsenal to challenge for the title. Going by his four seasons so far at the club, the answer would definitely be no. Giroud has not scored more than 20 goals in a season so far for the Gunners and every title winning team needs a top striker.
Arsene Wenger’s comments after the game were also not very encouraging. The Frenchman indicated that Giroud will be leading the line once again next season and he won’t look to sign a new striker.
2) A consolation for Arsenal as they finish above Spurs again!
Arsenal fans can rejoice in the fact that once again they were able to have the last laugh at the expense of Tottenham. Spurs were demolished 5-1 by an already relegated, 10-man Newcastle United at St. James Park, as they blew the chance to finish above their North London rivals for the first time in 21 seasons.
But is it enough for Arsenal? Something that Wenger had stressed upon when he was under the microscope was consistency. Indeed, Arsenal have never finished outside the top four under the Frenchman but once again they blew the chance to go one better and claim the title.
This season was an indicator to the potential this Tottenham team have and that they can be title contenders. Arsenal will have to watch out next campaign as Pochettino's men will only get stronger and more competitive.
3) Championship won’t be easy for shambolic Aston Villa
Villa have had an absolutely dismal season. But their performances or lack thereof has not been specific to this campaign alone. Villa have been imploding and underperforming for the last few years now.
Since Martin O’ Neill left the club in 2010, Villa have cultivated a habit of finishing in the bottom half of the league. The Championship is considered the toughest league in the world. Gaining promotion won’t be an easy task.
If Villa continue in the same way, it won’t be a big surprise to find them in the third tier of English football in the near future. They will receive parachute payments from the Premier League but that will only last them for so long.
4) Arsenal bids adieu to three veterans
Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, and Mathieu Flamini will all be departing Arsenal this summer because their contracts have run out. The three players have delivered at crucial times for the Gunners over the years but probably weren’t the most important cogs in the team.
Arteta was one of the players signed by Wenger during a transfer frenzy on deadline day. A humiliating defeat to United made Wenger realize the importance of filling the midfield void that was exploited by the Red Devils in that game and Arteta did a decent job of filling that void in his first season
Flamini became a cult hero during his time with the Gunners. The midfield man was important to the team and provided a perfect solution in midfield when Coquelin was injured this campaign. But the biggest miss of the trio will undoubtedly be Tomas Rosicky.
The Czech has wonderful ability on the ball, but didn’t feature regularly enough largely due to his injury problems. No Arsenal fan will ever forget that wonder goal he scored against Spurs a couple of seasons back.
It was a little sad to see ‘the little Mozart’ not playing the last game of the season.
5) Wenger’s future at Arsenal
The topic of Arsene Wenger’s future has been visited and re-visited quite frequently in the last few weeks. Ever since Arsenal bottled and gifted the title to Leicester City, Wenger has been harshly criticized publicly.
Fans have shown up for both home and away matches with banners of disapproval. But there is a big risk factor involved when it comes to changing the manager at Arsenal. It can be stated in the form of one simple question. Who will replace him?
Right now there aren’t that many managers available who we can say with complete confidence can step in and take the club to the next level. Wenger’s last year as Arsenal manager will be next season as his contract runs out, unless the board decide to give him an extension.
Does the Frenchman have one last trick up his sleeve? We will find out next season.