It has been another season of what ifs for Arsenal. A lot was expected for the team after the early months of the season due to the situations at their rivals.
Chelsea were a club were in turmoil with Jose Mourinho attracting negative attention and seemingly losing the trust of his players, Manchester United were getting hammered for their dull style of play and Manchester City’s form became unconvincing after winning their first five games.
“This is Arsenal’s best chance to win the League” all the pundits said, and it was a view shared by a lot of Gooners.”
Fast forward to May and it’s a sadly familiar feeling: top four again but a title challenge that fade when the pressure was on.
One usual accusation thrown at manager Arsene Wenger once his sides title bid fades away is that he failed in the transfer market, can the same be said for this season?
Minimal business, positive effect
In the summer of 2015, a lot was expect of Arsene Wenger to go out and strengthen his squad in Arsenal’s historically ‘problem positions’; Goal-keeper, defensive midfield and Striker.
The first box was checked when he spent £10 million on luring Petr Cech away from Chelsea. He was undoubtable the big, commanding and quality shot-stopper the fans and been crying out for since Jens Lehmann left after his first spell.
The Czech keeper saved the gunners numerous points this season, doing the basics immaculately and producing stunning saves time after time; great examples being his fingertip stop from Coutinho and a close range reaction stop from Christian Benteke when Liverpool visited the Emirates. The Arsenal defence seemed much stronger and reliable this season, and although they have conceded a similar amount of goals this season as they did the last, their new keeper as near twice as many clean sheets as David Ospina managed last season in the games he played, although he has played a lot more games.
There was a huge up-roar from a lot of fans when no outfield player was signed in the summer, but this didn’t stop Arsenal remaining well and truly in the title race as the season moved into 2016.
Mohamed Elneny joined in January, and although he was a defensive midfielder that could finally give Francis Coquelin some competition, he wasn’t the big name some fans would only expect.
However, he has turned out to be one of the major positives of the North London side’s season, as he has slotted nicely into the team and become a starter in recent weeks, rarely putting a foot wrong. So another successful signing of the season.
Lacking at the sharp end of the season
Its upfront is where some serious questions could be asked. Before the start of the season, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck were the clubs two main strikers, but a knee injury for Welbeck, which was only suppose to keep him out of the squad for a few weeks, meant we didn’t see him again until February. In this time, Giroud scored the majority of his goals for the season.
But in Welbeck’s absence, goals came from other players, such Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, until the Chilean picked up an injury.
So although there may have been a lack competition for Giroud up top, for the majority of the season, Arsenal weren’t lacking goals as continued to challenge for the league and made it to the Champions League knockout stages and the quarter final of the FA Cup.
In recent months the goals have dried up for the Frenchman, going 15 games without a goal until Sunday. But the goals also dried up in midfield which didn't help take the pressure off Giroud.
Wenger’s signings this season have had positive effects on the team this season, and fading out of the title race this season has been more down to two things, the current players underperforming in important games, rather than not possessing quality, and injuries, a factor Arsenal fans have become used to in recent years.
So although there have been the usual calls for the manager to spend big on proven superstars to bring the league title back to the red half of North London, the players currently at the club have proven in parts of this season that they have the quality to win big titles.
Of course more top quality signings would improve the side no doubt, but it would be harsh to say that the Premier League was lost this season because of the boss’ failings in the transfer window.