Arsenal. A club known to many across the globe. A club rich in tradition and history. A club used to winning ways. Sadly, the Arsenal we have previously seen and know, have diminished into an average, spiritless side with little ambition. Once masters of fast, flowing, attractive football that excited and enthralled millions, Arsenal were always a worthy watch. The days of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira and Freddie Ljungberg, are long gone for Arsenal. They were once a team that had the perfect balance. A strong backbone to the side, full of grit and determination, but also class and quality that could simply take your breath away.
The 2nd of March 2002. St. James Park. Arsenal, the visitors, had played out a tough ten minutes against a resolute Newcastle side that had opened the game in a typical frantic fashion, urged on by the toon army. However, the thrill and roar of the faithful Newcastle crowd would be silenced by a moment of what can only be described as genius. A simple counter attack by Arsenal, lead Pires to play the ball into the feet of Bergkamp and with the most magnificent touch and turn round the Newcastle defender, he slotted the ball into the net to send Arsenal 1-0 up, and totally silence the Newcastle fans. This moment of magic from Bergkamp sums up the Arsenal of old. Composed, strong, resolute but also elegant and entertaining, a team commendable of the trophy’s they competed for and won.
It is changed days for Arsenal fans now. They have gone eight years without a trophy and the pressure is piling up on one man, Arsène Wenger. The Arsenal fans are running out of patience, crashing out of the League and FA cup after being beaten by much smaller teams. Over the past eight trophy-less years, Arsenal fans have been quick to stick by their manager. They have always looked back to the past, remembering what Arsène has achieved, three Premiership titles, four FA cups and reaching the Champions League final. However, the 2012/13 season has seen the tables quickly turn. Arsenal fans seem to have given up hope, which is reflective of the teams on field performance. Inconsistent shows and spiritless displays by the team have caused a serious depression looming over the Emirates. With good players having left Arsenal in the last few years (Van Persie, Fabregas, Alex Song etc.) the media and fans have started to pick at the fact maybe Arsenal have no motivation or goals to achieve in football. They seem to settle for a Champions League place each year. Would they rather lose out on trophies, just to have the chance to guarantee 4th place?
The real question is, is Arsène to blame? Many have pointed out his flaws. The selling of key players; the inconsistency of the team; the dejected and heartless displays the team have given when playing. The selling of Robin Van Persie to rivals Manchester United over the summer has been the turning point. It may have been out of Arsène’s hands, but the intent to sell to a rival has certainly knocked the support of the Arsenal crowd. To let one of your main rivals take your top goal scorer is certainly beyond belief for many fans. Since then, the support has been quick to turn on Arsène when things aren’t going his way, which they haven’t of late. Results have varied over the course of the season, and when it came to important games, Arsenal have not shown up. When we compare the Arsenal of old to the Arsenal of new, we lose that sense of anticipation and wonder at what they will achieve. Arsenal were a club who could do anything if they put their mind to it. Now we expect Arsenal to only compete for a European spot. They have lost all that was respectable about them. The thrill of a big game for Arsenal seems to have disappeared. Will it take the departure of Arsène to bring Arsenal back?
After a turbulent week, most of the Arsenal fans have had enough. They want rid of their manager, with the view to a fresh start. A new era for Arsenal may be right around the corner and only time will tell whether Arsenal take the chance on either firing Arsène or extending his contract. In the meantime, the fans most focus on supporting the players on the park. Getting into the last eight of the Champions league seems mere impossible, but the impossible can become possible in football. If Arsène can lead his side to overturning a 3-1 deficit at the hands of Bayern Munich, he may save his job and put delight onto the faces of Arsenal fans that have had little to smile about all season. Who knows what the future holds for Arsenal. However, we do know that the fate of Arsène lies in the hands of himself. Galvanising his players to a strong end to the season could spur on the fans to believe maybe Arsenal do have what it takes to win major trophies, like the Arsenal of old did.