As the full-time whistle blew at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, it was Arsenal fans who were celebrating Wigan Athletic’s shock 2-1 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final.
The Latics’ victory means that they will now face The Gunners in a Wembley semi-final, but I’m sure Arsene Wenger’s side have their eyes fully focused on winning the trophy in May to end their nine year silverware drought.
They are clearly the favourites to win the FA Cup with the other remaining teams Hull City, Wigan and Sheffield United looking inferior opponents on paper. The Gunners are also still in with a chance of winning the Premier League title as they sit third in the table with 10 games to play.
The Champions League though does look out of their reach, with a 2-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their last 16 encounter giving them a mountain to climb in Munich on Tuesday evening.
But a domestic double is definitely still available for them and would be a superb way to end their nine years without a trophy. However read below to find out five reasons why I think The Gunners will not claim any silverware this campaign.
1. Expectant fans
Many Arsenal fans seem to think that this season’s FA Cup is already at the Emirates Stadium, down-grading the “easy” opposition that they will face in their remaining games in the competition.
Although the Gunners are certain favourites to lift the trophy at Wembley in May, I think celebrations of “The FA Cup is ours!!” from supporters on Twitter may be a bit premature.
It is a similar situation in the Premier League, where after they led the table for the first few months of the season, even having a seven point lead at the top at one point, meaning fans also expect them to remain in contention for that up until the final day.
What could be a decider is how well the players cope with this pressure from the people who cheer them on every week, if they can’t handle it those cheers will turn into boos and the silverware will disappear right in front of them.
Pressure from fans is one thing, but if you’re an Arsenal player remembering the club’s nine years without silverware, then you feel the burden of expectations and begin to let it get the better of you.
February and March have been the turning the points that have changed The Gunners’ season in recent years and it once again happened this year, with March not finished yet but there are tough games in the remainder of this month.
If we look into the not so distant past and the club’s best chance to win a trophy in recent years we see how they were too complacent against Birmingham City in the 2011 League Cup final and lost to the Blues who scored a 89th minute winner at Wembley.
Can they learn their lessons from history? Arsene Wenger needs to make sure that the players, unlike their fans, don’t start the celebrations until a trophy (if it is) won.
Furthermore, Arsenal have some great players, no question, but they have no recent experience of winning trophies which could be an unlikely key factor in their fight for silverware.
3. Squad depth
As well as a squad who has little experience of winning trophies, the Gunners lack a large squad in general, with injuries not helping this.
The lack options is clearly the most obvious problem, but as you move to ll soon realise that Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta’s combination is crucial as at least one of them has to play in order to allow for players like Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs to attack wide.
Speaking of out wide, Theo Walcott is out for the remainder of the season and whilst Mesut Ozil has been out of touch in recent weeks but may have rediscovered his form after playing a big role in the Gunners’ 4-1 win over Everton on Saturday.
With a hectic fixture coming up as the season draws to a close, a fulltime injury to any more pivotal players and their chances of silverware suddenly decrease as they have no fully adequate replacements.
4. The striker problem
The most decisive injury of all would be if Olivier Giroud was out on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
The Frenchman is loved by all Gunners fans and his importance to the team was showed on Saturday against Everton when he came off the bench just after the hour mark with the score at 1-1. The game finished 4-1 with Giroud scoring two goals to secure Arsenal’s place at Wembley.
But other than him, Arsene Wenger has no other striker to do a competent job week in week out which is a problem if Giroud is injured. Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott can both fill in there when fit but the former has fallen out of favour and the latter is injured.
The man Giroud replaced on Saturday, Yaya Sanogo has proved why Arsenal paid nothing for his services last summer with a number of poor performances, whilst Nicklas Bendtner remains the butt of all jokes in the Premier League despite having a mini-revival at the start of the year.
Trophies or no trophies in May, Arsene Wenger definitely needs to invest upfront this summer.
5. Tough games
Out of all of their title rivals, Arsenal certainly have the toughest run-in, with these games deciding their fate. Their title challenge could be over by the end of the month as they face Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City before we get into the April, whilst a tricky trip to Everton awaits when do get to the penultimate month of the campaign.
After that, their games get easier but the title hopes could be all but over by then. In the Champions League, their 2-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their last 16 encounter giving them a mountain to climb in Munich on Tuesday evening.
In the FA Cup, where their most realistic trophy hopes lie, the opponents may be slightly easier but will still provide a tough challenge. Firstly, you don’t get to an FA Cup semi-final for being poor. Hull, Wigan and Sheffield United have beaten Premier League opponents on their way to Wembley.
Wigan, Arsenal’s semi-final opponents, can certainly not be underestimated as they are on the up under Uwe Rosler and not many teams come away from the Etihad Stadium with a win as The Latics did.
This article is also being published on Touchline Talk, the website I write for. You can look at previous pieces of mine here: