What can we expect from Arsenal this year? How high should we set our hopes? Can we win the league? Here’s my verdict and I suppose prediction for Arsenal’s season ahead.
Premier League –
Optimistic Prediction – 3rd
Realistic Prediction – 6th
Plenty of the pundits and commentators are saying how 6 or even 7 (including Everton) teams could win the league this year, I disagree, I doubt that Arsenal, Liverpool or Everton are capable of winning the league and even Spurs are more towards the unlikely end of the scale having lost Walker, not strengthened their side and are playing home games at Wembley. Under a different manager Arsenal could win the league, we have one of the biggest squad depths, take centre midfield for example – Ozil, Cazorla, Xhaka, El-Neny, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere (if he stays) and even Oxlade-Chamberlain can play in that role. I don’t feel we have the mentality still, and also lack maybe one more centre back. A Champions League place is the best we can achieve, and even then who can we realistically finish above? Spurs maybe, perhaps Liverpool? Even Everton will run us close on a top 6 place I would imagine. 6th is therefore a pretty realistic finish considering the added pressures of Europa League on Thursday nights.
Europa League –
Arguably could be our best way back into the Champions League if we can’t make the top 4, if Arsenal take the Europa League seriously we can win it. Currently, other sides in Seeding pot 1 are Lyon, Villarreal and Lazio, all sides you would expect Arsenal to beat. AC Milan and Everton could be our biggest challengers, and I think Arsenal fans should relish the opportunity of actually having a chance of winning a European tournament. Anything less than a quarter final is a colossal failure, and really we should be setting our sights for at least a semi final, if we take the competition seriously like United did we can win it, whilst giving players like Chambers and Iwobi a platform to gather confidence and momentum and provide Nelson and other youngsters first team football.
Domestic Cups –
I’ve never understood why Arsenal and Wenger haven’t taken the League Cup more seriously. It may play second fiddle to the FA Cup, which itself has diminished in importance, but a trophy is a trophy. If Arsenal win their first three matches (and it’s very possible they could all be against lower league opposition) they’re already in a semi final. Wenger has never won the competition – it’s the only domestic trophy he is yet to win, surely in what should be his last two years he will have a good crack at it? I’m up for another trip to Wembley too.
Back-to-back FA Cups would be fun too, although I would rather success in the Europa League. Defending the FA Cup could be tougher this time round, there seems to be a growing number of sides taking it seriously, and clubs like Everton, Southampton and West Ham even, will be hungry for some sort of solid success.
Overall I go into this season with high hopes outside of the league. Regaining Champions League football is the biggest target, and is probably most likely through Europa League success.