So What Are Arsenal’s Targets & Expectations Next Season?

I thought it would be interesting to see what people thought about Arsenal next season, and what their targets and expectations would be.

Since 2005 when we won the FA Cup against Manchester United, we have won nothing but consistently finished in the Top 4, giving us Champions League football (via a playoff).

But what are our expectations next season?

Another Top 4 finish?

Or will next season by different?

After we narrowly pinched 4th spot on the last day of the season, Gary Neville said the following about Arsenal:

“They have built a football stadium, they’re paying off their debt and they’re nearly there.

“If they move up now it will look like one of the most magnificent managerial performances if you look back in history.

“Half the Arsenal fans are annoyed because they think they should be doing more and should be doing better, but of all the madness and debt that surrounds football, what they have done is absolutely the right thing.

“What they need to do now, having nearly paid off their debt, is they need to go now. I think he knows, Arsène Wenger, that moment is now.”

So is he right?

With Gary Neville now a respected pundit for Sky Sports, his views make a lot of sense. We have suffered 8 seasons without winning anything and it’s no secret that sections of the Arsenal faithful are getting frustrated.

Personally, I sit in the middle. There is no doubt that Arsene Wenger has revolutionised Arsenal Football Club, on and off the pitch. He changed the face of English football with his methods and partly helped the Premier League what it is today. He has moved Arsenal from Highbury, a 38,000 seater stadium into The Emirates Stadium which holds over 60,000 supporters every other week. On a shoestring (and well reported £9 million net spend) he has managed to give us Champions League football season after season. Something other “big” club such as Liverpool, Tottenham and others would love to achieve. Yet, there is something missing.

Over the last few seasons, we have consistently sold our best players. Love them or hate them, we have seen Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry and Gael Clichy all leave for pastures new. Has the squad got gradually worse? Yes it has. Which perversely, adds to Arsene’s reputation as he has somehow managed to pip Tottenham to 4th despite having arguably the worse Arsenal squad he’s had since he joined in 1996, and Tottenham having arguably the best squad they’ve had in that time.

The big questions that Arsene doubters are asking are the following:

  • Will we spend the required money to create a squad that can really compete at the top level?
  • Are the expectations for next season to finish in the Top Four again? (even if this isn’t Arsenal’s “public” stance)
  • Is it possible to get the “winning mentality back” after so long settling for Champions League football?
  • Will we take the domestic cup competitions seriously?
  • Is Arsene Wenger the man to take Arsenal to that next level?

Below, I attempt to answer the questions the best I can:

Will we spend the required money to create a squad that can really compete at the top level?

It’s a little to early to say, but the signs aren’t overly positive. There has only been one bid which has been made public, and that was the £18.5 million bid for Lars Bender which was turned down. At this stage, no-one knows if we’re going to follow that up. We’ve been linked with Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Gonzalo Higuain, Gareth Barry, Cesc Fabregas and other big names but despite having been “linked” with them for weeks, nothing has materialised. The Higuain “deal” seems the most worrying as “apparently” discussions have been going on for a matter of weeks. So it either hasn’t been concluded because Arsenal are haggling over the price or it was never on the table in the first place.

Are the expectations for next season to finish in the Top Four again? (even if this isn’t Arsenal’s “public” stance)

Publicly Arsenal will tell everyone that they will “do everything they can” to mount a real title challenge next year but realistically that won’t happen. Even if Arsenal do spend big on the 4/5 top class players they would need to compete, Arsene has created a culture of failure. It will be a massive challenge for Arsene to suddenly change the mentality in the changing room and create a squad full of winners. Fabergas and Van Persie left because they knew we couldn’t really challenge at the very top and honours would be best achieved elsewhere.

Is it possible to get the “winning mentality back” after so long settling for Champions League football?

I don’t know. Arsene is an extremely intelligent man and done phenomenal things at Arsenal, but is it too late into his career to be suddenly winning the top prizes again? The biggest problem is while we’re clearing the dead wood from the squad, the quality that’s left isn’t good enough. In seasons gone by, we had top players like Cesc, Van Persie, Henry, etc. that you knew were good enough but now we have players (and no disrespect to them) who aren’t in the same league. Giroud, Podolski, Gervinho et al are not Premier League winning class. We only have a handful of players (Wilshere, Gibbs, Sagna, Arteta and Mertesacker) who I truly believe would be good enough to get into the other Top Four clubs starting elevens.

Will we take the domestic cup competitions seriously?

As the quality of the squad has gradually got worse, Arsene has found himself playing stronger sides in the cup competitions. The sides that lost against Bradford and Blackburn last season on paper were more than good enough to comfortably win those games. I believe that he is taking the cups more seriously but after so long “disrespecting” the cups, do the players believe that they are important anymore?

Is Arsene Wenger the man to take Arsenal to that next level?

And that is the million dollar question. Is Arsene the man?

The two key issues here are does he have the same skill in the transfer market to recruit real quality, and can he lead a successful side once again after 8 seasons finishing empty-handed.

On the first point, it doesn’t look good. He may have only spent £9 million net over the last few seasons but some of the purchases have been questionable. Marouane Chamakh was free but put on stupid wages and has contributed very little to the club. Andrei Arshavin was unbelievable for a year then totally useless for the remaining years. Gervinho is a player that I still don’t understand why he was brought to the club. We’ve also had Sebastien Squillaci who was useless – we’ve had too many players that have been brought in to “strengthen” the squad and ended up being pretty much useless. Either way, it is Arsene’s responsibility to get the best out of the players, or failing that, not bring players to Arsenal that aren’t up to the standard. The manager has to take the blame for the poor players at the club.

Koscielny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Arteta and Cazorla have been excellent signings, while Podolski and Giroud have been moderate successes. Not a massive disaster overall, but definitely room for improvement. Arsene needs to make sure only top quality is added to the squad now and no mercenaries who do f*ck all and pick up their pay cheque.

The the other issue is whether he is capable of leading another title winning side again.

This one is down to whether you think he has been operating with his “hands tied” and therefore hasn’t had the chance to create a trophy-winning team, or whether you think Arsene doesn’t have the tactical knowhow any more to create a consistent team.

A common complaint in recent seasons was the defensive naivety of the team. But, somehow for the last 10 games of last season we seemed to have cracked it. We won 8 games and drew the other 2. We scored 19 goals and only conceded 5 goals, and in those games we kept an impressive 5 clean sheets and in the other 5 games, we only conceded a solitary goal. So whatever Arsene did to turn it around, it seems to have worked.

If we can add some real firepower to the new-found defensive stability, then we could have something special to build on. However, if we return to our old ways next season then it will be very much of the same once again.

With an apparent “war chest” at his disposal, the excuses next season will be few and far between if we end up trophy less yet again.

In a way, in terms of pressure and the expectation to deliver trophies, this could be Arsene’s biggest season yet.


9 thoughts on “So What Are Arsenal’s Targets & Expectations Next Season?

  1. wegner must go. he will not spend the money spurs are showing better judgement. he will still show a profit over transfers

  2. Arsene!Whatever you do is O K by me. Because you are without doubt the Best Manager the club has ever had! Everyone is allowed a few mistakes, but yours are nowhere as serious as many other Premiership managers! Keep on doing what you have done for the past 14years or so, and you won’t go far wrong!!! All the best for next season. You have a lot of fans behind you. Bonne Chance

  3. Well it is well written, but I do have serious issues with the piece taking quotes out of context. The actual context and words spoken is that 4th place and champions league football is the bare minimum requirement. By finishing in that place at some point the teams are challenging for the title even if that challenge finishes earlier. Lets be blunt financially having champions league football is more profitable than winning fa cup or league cup. Take Chelsea having won the fa cup and premier league titles they still made losses. They win the champions league and they make a profit with an overall income from champions league football close to 50 million pounds. If he was Incapable of winning I would be first to agree with you. However, I missed the Bradford game due to family commitments but did record it at one stage during that match you hear him audibly say for fuck sake pass the ball or words close to that. You see him get exasperated and throw his arms up kick bottles over in temper, this shows he still cares and has a winning mentality. Can he win something this year maybe it will take some luck some consistency and some good editions. Again is where I have issue with your piece technically transfer window or business tends to start around the 1st of July if by 31 August we have no signings or signings that signal our intent then that’s when to say I told you so but until then you can not make those claims.

  4. One thing majority of Arsenal fans seems to forget football/soccer jst like any other game is meant for competition, the ability to win titles, silverware, trophies and be competent to fight for something not the other way round as we witness everyday in arsenal, soccer is not abt do it for money but passion and legacy, records and history. So others are not stupid spending their huge amount of cash to win titles so stop defending arsenal way of spending cash as if u get something depends on what remains. The pride of every soccer fans is winning and winning and nothing else, even my kids cannot support arsenal coz he fears being a laughing stock in school and his group. In order to keep generation of fans don’t look back keep going and be competents or u will be like liverfool whose its fans & supporters are only grandfathers and few youths.

  5. Have to agree with much of what Richard says….think a little patience is necessary…..I’ve been supporting Arsenal for nigh on 40yrs and have had more seasons without a trophy than with. For starters who comes in if Wenger goes ? As for views of players, Gibbs if fit is a great left back, Cazorla (1 season) is class and will get better, Wilshire is young and is having his first pre-season for the past few seasons, Ramsey also young had a broken leg and showing real signs of quality, Giroud (also 1st season) 17 goals in a side full of players in first season together, not bad definite potential, Podolski (1st season) great left foot works hard and will only get better with team understanding. Think with a few quality signings (which I believe we’ll make), in the right areas, to add to the quality already at the club we’ll be amongst it. You gotta at least have some optimism before the season starts, transfer window is only 3 days old !
    My head tells me were in for some pleasant surprises next season. The bigger picture is were a top 4 side which means were already in someway contenders, bit of luck and some depth to what is already starting to look a class side and we’ll all be singing Wenger’s praises again. I’d avoid the majority of the press disinformation if I were you or at least take it with a pinch of salt. Sit on your hands, be patient and see where were at by opening day. Bring on the season !!!!

  6. I can’t seem to understand why no one is picking on Wenger clearing out the unwanted players as a sign of optimism. I cannot remember when last we had such a ruthless clear out which seems to be ongoing as I believe suitable and more capable replacements would be brought in due time. Just because the signings have not been littered on is not a reason for pessimism that has been littered all over your post. Support the team for now and then and be ruthlessly critical come the end of August if the situation does not meet your expectation.


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