Arsenal’s downfall is surely not something that happened overnight. Arsenal were once considered among elite European clubs and used to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.
Seriously, who could ever forget the 2003-04 Premier League season where the Gunners remained unbeaten for a whole year? But things took a drastic turn in the coming seasons and Arsenal were soon reduced to a springboard club for young players.
How it all started
Many believe the primary reason for the downfall was the Emirates Stadium. With the exit of their star players in the coming years, Arsenal were unable to keep up with the rest of the Premier League.
The club was just not able to register any big signings since the majority of the club’s money was being used for the construction of the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners even made it to the 2006 Champions League final where they unfortunately lost to Barcelona. But the illusion did not last long. Apart from the few mentioned examples, Arsenal's new signings were just not good enough. They were no longer title contenders.
How Arsenal reacted
Arsenal finally reacted in 2013 following immense pressure from the fans.
“The club’s austerity period is over, we can recruit again. With the right decisions, we will take the club back to the top,” Ivan Gazidis- The Guardian,2013
With new signings like Ozil in 2013, Sanchez in 2014, and Cech in 2015, the whole Premier League thought the Gunners were back. But that was surely not the case.
While Alexis Sanches was a great success, Ozil struggled to live up to his expectations. As if this wasn’t enough, Arsenal made more mistakes on the signings of Mustafi and Elneny and the entire blame was placed on Arsene Wenger.
Things become worse at Arsenal
As the seasons passed, people started questioning Wenger's capabilities. It had been a long time since Arsenal last won the league title. Chelsea, Manchester United, City and even Leicester had won the league during this period.
Even the Gunner’s sworn rivals, Tottenham, finished above them in 2017. As if this wasn't enough to add insult to injury, Arsenal did not qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 21 years.
This was just too much for the fans. For them, Wenger had to go. The French coach tried everything and even signed Lacazette and Aubameyang but the players were far from being good enough to take on the stars of the Premier League.
The big question you might be wondering about is why did Arsenal not recruit like other teams?
This was because Club’s owner Stan Kroenke had put in place a new transfer policy.
“Arsenal will become a self-financed club. Any investment will be limited to the money generated by the club” Stan Kroenke - BBC, 2018
End of Arsene Wenger's era
By now, Arsenal have lost a huge amount of money just by not competing in the Champions League. Also, the club’s total payroll was also far higher than their earnings due to badly managed contracts.
The pressure that was mounting on Arsene Wenger’s shoulder was just too high now. Ultimately, Wenger decided to step down from the managerial post and leave the club after having served at the club for 22 years, the most in Arsenal club’s history.
The news received mixed reactions from fans. While some were sad that their legendary manager was leaving the club, others were happy to think that with Wenger’s exit, the club will finally bounce back and get back to winning ways.
Little did those fans know that things at Arsenal would just go from bad to worse.