Arsenal must not rest on their FA Cup laurel
It was a great moment on 17th May 2014 when Arsène Wenger laid his hands on the F.A. Cup, a trophy which he and Arsenal had last won in 2005. What made the moment even sweeter was that the final against Hull was one of the most entertaining FA Cup finals since the Liverpool vs West Ham game in 2006. It was relief rather than elation for Wenger and Arsenal fans to finally win a trophy.
The big question still however remain answered. Can they do it again? Can they do even better by winning the Premier League and challenging the best in the Champions League?
People called for the Boss’ head when they lost 3-1 to Villa first day of the season. It’s hard to imagine how can one not think like that way after the result. “Spend Spend Spend” was the order of the day. Then came the bumper signing of Mesut Özil which lifted not only the team but also the fans’ hopes and results started to get better. But again when it came to the big games, Arsenal faltered and the title was gone before anyone could know what happened.
What next? After getting a silverware which eluded them for so long, Arsenal must now build on this success. Summer signings and key ones at that are needed to be made if a Gooner is to believe that the next trophy isn’t far away.
Apart from the man that matters, everyone thought that Arsenal needed another striker last season. Well it is surely needed now. Walcott’s injury exposed that fact. The team became direct and sometimes too predictable against the better teams. Loic Remy seems to be the obvious and the smart choice. Arsenal fans were certainly happy to notice his presence during the last league match of the season at the Emirates against West Brom. The fact that his price tag is not going be as high as for a Suárez or a Higuaín, his signing might be the answer to Arsenal’s woes upfront.
Defensive cover for Koscielny and Mertesacker is also a must. With Vermaelen and Sagna bound to leave, instant replacements for them would be hard to discover as both have been great servants for the club. French side Nice’s 26-year-old Serbian international Nemanja Pejcinovic who will be free agent this summer would be a shrewd choice. Wenger has a history of signing free agents from French teams. Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre; 2013); Marouane Chamakh (Bordeaux; 2010); Mathieu Flamini (Marseille; 2004); Guillaume Warmuz (Lens; 2003); Guy Demel (Nimes; 2000) all were signed on a free by the gaffer. Pejcinovic would be a cheap squad addition to Arsenal. Still a marquee signing with proven credentials as a defender would be a better.
Lastly, apart from doing business in the transfer window some other areas need to be have a major look-in. Defensive tactics like zonal marking while defending set-pieces for one needs to be reviewed by the coaching staff. Steve Bould, an Arsenal legend, started this style after taking over from Pat Rice as the first team coach. But this tactic is brutally exposed by the better teams. When it clicks Arsenal look unbeatable but when it doesn’t…. well it looks like 6-3 (vs City), 5-1 (vs L’pool), 6-0(vs Chelsea) and 3-0(vs Everton).
Let’s hope that we won’t have to wait another decade to get excited and feel triumphant about achieving success. It won’t probably happen next season but with the right kind of business done in the summer, the Premier League might just be in sight.