I generally look on the positive side of life, although this may not be immediately evident listening to my post-match comments on players’ performances when we have actually won games. But with the FA cup triumph, and Champions League football secured for another season, there is justification in being so as far as our season turned out. How many fans would have turned down such an outcome after the opening game of the season?
Of course there is some disappointment at fading so alarmingly in the third quarter of the season, not least because those smug gits on MotD can say “I told you so”, and those away games at Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool were nothing less than humiliating. But they were not the games that prevented us challenging for the title in the closing weeks. Had we lost those three games one nil, the rhetoric would be different, but the points haul exactly the same.
Our performances against the bottom half teams was more consistent than I can remember, and probably better than any other team, but the sum total of two points from the four games against Man U and Everton was a return well below both expectation and requirement.
So, despite coming fourth again, we can claim progress; We scored 6 more points than last season, were 7 points off the eventual winners rather than 16, and increased the gap over Spurs from 1 to 10 points, doing the double over them in the process.
But as the totally unremarkable correlation between squad value and league position indicates, fourth is the very least we should expect. If M. Wenger does spend the £100m popularly mooted as his “war chest” we well start next season with a squad valued somewhat adjacent to that of “money bags” Man City. Without going into the possible transfer targets (is there a player on the planet that hasn’t already been linked with Arsenal?), and whether Arsene would actually spend all his pocket money in one window, I do expect to see a strengthening in attack and a beefing up of options in front of the defence.
Those additions are essential to take the next step, as are improvements to the medical areas, so we are not top of the injury league all season, but the addition that might be most significant of all is the experience of winning that trophy.
I’m already looking forward to next season.