Season 2003-04: The Gunners did not know about it at the time, but the team from North London was going to make history in British football. The club went on to be unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League for the entire season. A feat that has never been achieved before and after, so far. The future was supposed to be promising. It yielded a F.A. Cup title against Manchester United and a second place in the league behind José Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004-05; and a Champions League final, at the Stade de France in Paris, lost versus FC Barcelona thanks to a late goal from Julian Belleti. Since then, Arsenal FC has been struggling to win titles. They have finished no higher than 3rd in the league. No FA Cup titles until the triumphs 2014 and 2015. No European titles (the closest was a seminal appearance against the Red Devils in 2009 which was lost 4-1 on aggregate). In the League Cup, they appeared in one final at Wembley Stadium in London, Birmingham City, which were just promoted by the score 2-1 with a last-minute goal.
In the meantime, several big name players left the club such as Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Alex Song, Alexander Hleb, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna etc. Others came in such as Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Montreal, Gervinho (left the team since), Marouane Chamakh (left), Nicklas Bendtner (left), Gabriel Paulista, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech, Mohamed Elmeny, David Ospina etc. Young players have given Arsenal’s fans some hope such Hector Bellerin from Spain, Francis Coquelin from France and youngster Alex Iwobi from Nigeria. It is not enough to win the title though. This year was a year where, if done right, Arsenal could have challenged Leicester City FC most decisively. But now, with six games to play, they are 14 points behind with two games in hand. A task almost impossible to achieve.
Regrets and maybe frustration will continue to mount and the current manager, Arsene Wenger, will continue to be at the centre of it all. For years, fans and experts mentioned that the club was lacking several players to compete for titles a good defensive midfielder, a world class centre-half and a goal scorer. Interesting observations since Arsenal used to always field those type of players on the pitch (Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Robert Pires, Ian Wright, Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie). Where are those kind players been ? Why has Arsenal changed a winning formula? Is the construction of the Emirates Stadium good enough of an excuse to explain the lack of trophies by the former “Invincibles”? We shall see.
True, it is not easy to find those type of quality players, but Arsenal FC is not a club like any other. Based in London, England, with a successful history, big stadiums in the past and present and with ambitions, it is time for the Gunners to take that step ahead.