Despite it all, I believe in Arsenal again, and I believe that this season we can finish above Manchester United.
Undoubtedly there were Arsenal fans who handled last season better than I did. Ones who didn’t seriously consider giving up or started laughing as much as others when we messed up.
Of course I still stuck by my team despite the vitriol and enjoyed glorious wins over Chelsea, Spurs and champions elect Manchester City in the process. It was still however, the season where something snapped.
I know this now because I’ve approached the Van Persie situation with the nonchalance of someone who’s seen it all before, someone who really doesn’t care as much as his fellow fans apparently do.
Our captains have a habit of leaving us and it’s a problem that can only be remedied by success. Not success of the third place kind, as our board seems so happy with, but success of the shiny variety. Everyone knew Van Persie would go and that only a trophy might convince him to stay – sure we hoped as we so fruitlessly have done for years now but we knew the inevitability.
He had one fantastic season, one that at 29 he’s unlikely to repeat, and we got £24m for him in the last year of his contract. It’s a good deal, and if we invest the money elsewhere it should be in defence, not attack.
Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud are all great signings, an attacking trio of French, German and Spanish internationals who all add to the squad and could quite feasibly net us the number of goals that Robin typically did. Their arrivals also serve as a sign that Wenger has changed after the mess of last summer.
Behind those three we still have the most consistent player of last season Mikel Artera, an Oxlade-Chamberlain coming of age, a returning and hopefully resurgent Jack Whilshire this winter and the ever-evolving workhorse Aaron Ramsey.
Little Theo Walcott, whose form is apparently dictated by which way the wind is blowing, could come good for his club once more and then there’s Gervihno, who will be hungry and more than capable of putting a lacklustre first season behind him.
The Arsenal of old too often gave up at the first sign of defeat and too often didn’t take their chances. Last season we evolved past that and improved massively. No other team won from losing positions as much as Arsenal and Arteta’s victory-assuring late strike against City proved symbolic.
I believe in Arsenal again, and I believe that this season we can finish above Manchester United.
Laugh all you want. Their team is top heavy with Robin and Rooney up front, and as Torres has shown us, the success of a in-form arrival is never guaranteed. There are other factors also: How will Welbeck and Hernandez react if they don’t get a look in? And what about their midfield?
United have desperately needed a creative central midfielder for years and seem overly reliant on their old guard of Scholes and Giggs. They were very lucky to be as close to City at the end of the season as they were.
Arsenal’s midfield is better.
So maybe I was wrong earlier, maybe it’s not a lack of caring about Van Persie’s move, maybe it’s in fact a belief that we’ll do perfectly fine without him just as we eventually did perfectly fine without Fabregas and Nasri the year prior.
It may prove foolhardy to think this way but Arsenal fans have been through enough crap to be positive for once and this season we have very good reason to be.