Arsenal supporters must be fed up with rival fans constantly reminding them how their favorite club has not won a trophy of any sort in nine years.
For a club with the prestige and the history as Arsenal, nine years without a trophy is downright embarrassing. The Gunners have failed a lift a silverware since winning the FA Cup in 2005. Since that time Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic, Birmingham City, and Swansea City have all gone up to win trophies (either the League Cup or the FA Cup). North London rivals North London Tottenham Hotspurs have won a trophy too since then (2008 League Cup) and Chelsea have won everything from the Premier League to the Champions League.
Following their Champions League ouster at the hands of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger’s men are left with just the Premier League and the FA Cup as their last chance at any silverware this season. They are currently tied for second in the Barclays Premier League (seven points behind Chelsea but with one less match played) and they are also in the semifinals of the FA Cup.
Surveying the rest of the season, here’s what manager Arsene Wenger should do if he really wants to lift a trophy for the first time in nearly a decade:
Forget about winning the Premier League and focus on winning the FA Cup!
An emphatic 4-1 win against Everton, coupled with Wigan’s huge upset of Manchester City, means that Arsenal are now the overwhelming favorites to win the FA Cup. The football gods seemed to have done Arsene Wenger a huge favor, because instead of facing City in the FA Cup semifinals at Wembley next month, his side will instead face second-tier Wigan. Should they get through, as expected, then they will face the Sheffield United vs. Hull City winner in the final in May. On paper, one would have to love the Gunners’ chances. Compare that to the Premier League, where Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool have all been given better odds of winning it all.
In the war of attrition that is the Premier League, Arsenal seems to be running low on ammunition. Key players such as Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Kim Kallstrom, and Abou Diaby are all sidelined with injuries. Now comes news that Mesut Ozil (who has not been playing well recently) will also be out for a few weeks due to a bad hamstring. And if Wenger did not have enough to worry about, take a look at Arsenal’s fixture between now and April 12 (FA Cup semifinals):
Arsenal's Fixture (March 16 - April 6)
|Mar 16||Tottenham Hotspur||White Hart Lane|
|Mar 22||Chelsea||Stamford Bridge|
|Mar 25||Swansea City||Emirates Stadium|
|Mar 29||Manchester City||Emirates Stadium|
|Apr 6||Everton||Goodison Park|
Given that stretch of matches with a depleted squad, it would be highly unlikely if Arsenal emerge within striking distance of the Premier League. By then they might be better served ensuring that they can secure a top four finish for Champions League qualification next season.
Despite Wenger’s claim that the Premier League is more important than the FA Cup, it would make little sense to put all his eggs in that one basket. He would be better off resting his key players and saving them for the FA Cup semifinal. He will likely have Ozil and Ramsey back in time for April 12, and should they make the final perhaps Wilshere will be recovered enough to play by then. Go win the FA Cup, give your players some taste of championship glory, and give your men some momentum going into next season.
The FA Cup should be looked at as a must-win situation by Arsenal. Another season without a trophy would be almost intolerable.