Arsenal began 2017 with three points at home against Crystal Palace, in a match that brought us a stunning scorpion goal from Olivier Giroud. Unfortunately the beginning to 2018 wasn’t as generous, after we drew against Chelsea, with a late equalizer from the unlikely Hector Bellerin. I wouldn’t have expected him to even have a shot on target, let alone a goal, but hey, if not for him, just a few days into the new year, we could be in a much worst mood.
Things have been up and down for the Gunners, and emotionally, they led us all on an epic ride along the side of the world’s rockiest mountain, with no guard rails, no parachute, and blindfolded. Does it get more exciting, nervy and frustrating than that? Talk about a memorable rush that leaves you wanting more, yet, there are no certainties for what is ahead, and although we’re told it looks promising, when we finally get there, more often than not, it’s been disappointing.
Continuously the words compete and challenge have been thrown around. The difference between both when it comes to footy are significant, although it still seems everyone in the Arsenal board is trying to figure out just exactly what they mean.
As happened the year before, and the year before that, in 2017, we wanted to compete, or challenge, depending on how you look at it. The reality of it was that we competed for a Europa League spot, and we challenged ourselves in a way that we managed to make history. We were no longer amongst the elite, and now found ourselves enrolled into a competition that Manchester United had just won, throwing them a lifeline to get into the Champions League.
We are now that club looking for the lifeline, a way back into the big dance.
2018 will be another memorable year not only for the fact that Arsenal could actually have a decent chance at claiming a European title, but, we could find ourselves out of the top four again, and, that could be the final straw for Arsene Wenger and his time at the club.
After 22 matches, we find ourselves five points out of fourth place, and at the moment one point back of those god damn spu*s, but that could soon be four if they beat West Ham on Thursday.
All of those around us seem to be moving forward, even if they are taking small steps, while we take two steps forward, three steps sideways, and four steps backwards. It appears to be a never-ending cycle, but hopefully with the signings of Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi, things will start to change for the better. Power appears to be slowly shifting from the tight grip of Arsene Wenger, who realistically needs the assistance alongside him, he’s just been too stubborn to admit it.
With the two new appointments, there will need to be funding available to bring in the proper talent. If not, we’ll continue to buy players who are younger than 21 years old, hoping that in three or four years, after they’ve been loaned out to various clubs across Europe, they are ready to wear the red and white of Arsenal.
We’ve obviously seen that will not always work. Instead, there needs to be a balance in buying young, and buying experienced and established, which is a big determining factor for Arsenal in 2018.
The January transfer window will be a good place to start, and it appears they’ve already locked in their first signing, although it does seem he’ll be sent out on loan.
Kostas Mavropanos, 20-year old Greek defender, who most likely none of us knew about 24-hours ago has signed for the Gunners, in a deal worth £1.8M. Turns out he’s one of Greece’s most exciting prospects, but as I alluded to earlier, while buying young is great to build for the future, Arsenal has been doing that for far too long. We need Mislintat and Sanllehi to steal Stan Kroenke’s checkbook, tell him to f^&k off, and bring in the signings required to make Arsenal relevant again when it comes to the top two or three in the Premier League.
Now, it goes without saying that we clearly won’t have the financial resources to compete with the likes of Manchester City, or maybe even Manchester United, but, Kroenke has an impressive portfolio when it comes to finances and sports franchises, so it’s about damn time he starts to invest a bit in North London’s biggest and best club.
Look no further than Borussia Dortmund, where Mislintat came from. They had to compete with Bayern Munich, and while the Bavarian’s continuously came in and signed their top players, somehow The Black and Yellows managed to stay relevant. Us on the other hand, we’ve slowly come undone at the seams, and with the added pressure from our own supporters, and the love to hate Arsenal mentality among all the neutrals, it’s been painful to watch.
This month will need to include the contract signing for Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil, allowing us to solidify somewhat of a core. Building around them will be a good way forward, and if Alexis is off, we can only hope that he goes abroad, and that a proper replacement is brought in.
There have been names like Thomas Lemar, Fekir, Draxler, Mahrez and even Zaha thrown around as replacements, but, us Arsenal supporters know how the rumor mill works. Maybe Mislintat and Sanllehi will change that perception and actually start making some of these signings, opposed to us only being able to live those moments on Football Manager, or FIFA18.
We desperately need another proven central defender, another midfielder who can take on more of a defensive role and is a proven player, and possibly another player who can play across the front three. Is that too much to ask for?!
That’s really the only way we’ll be able to make a push in the coming months to get back into the top four. Failure to make the proper signings could result in a much worst end of season in the league standings than last year, and let me tell you, I don’t even want to think about that, and I know you don’t either.
How I Expect Arsenal’s 2018 Season To Finish
Burnley are right on our heels, which pains me to say, or even think about if I’m being honest. With just five points separating us, we are walking on a very thin tightrope. Despite Arsenal’s previous disappointments in the January transfer window, I think they could make some decent signings this year.
Regardless of what Arsene Wenger says, I think Alexis Sanchez will leave this month, as long as the club is able to bring in a proper replacement before the window closes.
I’m not entirely sure how that would play out, but, it seems that the squad is divided when it comes to the Chilean and his transfer soap opera. Contrary to all of that, we must admit that it does seem he’s far more respectful of his teammates on the pitch of late, and he does seem to be finding his form again. Is it too little, too late? Or, is he just putting in a shift knowing that he’s the mannequin standing in the shop window, with all those wealthy footy men standing outside with their bags of cash, and end of contract coupons?
If they manage to make the appropriate signings this month that I expect them to, I do see Arsenal getting into the top four, and finally finishing back above Spu*s, putting them right back into their rightful place, which is in our shadow.
On top of that, I’m going to predict Arsene Wenger wins his first English League Cup, in an epic final against Manchester City, who will have better things to worry about, like Champions League and Premier League, although they should wrap that up sooner rather than later. Also, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Arsenal will make it to the Europa League Final, and… they will FINALLY lift a European trophy, even if it’s like the second tier of Europe’s elite. Truthfully, that’s probably where we deserve to be at the moment.
We’ll find our way back to Wembley in May again, and we’ll take on Liverpool in the FA Cup final, of which we’ll win, again. And lastly, Arsene Wenger will call it quits, despite having one year left on his contract. It will be the perfect time to walk away, just before he completely ruins his legacy at the club. Only a Premier League triumph could be more fitting for a proper sending off for Le Prof, but that doesn’t seem realistic at the moment.
So, who will replace the Frenchman? I’ll say Joachim Löw agrees to a deal to sign prior to heading to Russia for the World Cup with Germany, but I’m starting to believe the Mikel Arteta rumors. Has he had enough time to learn from Pep? All of that in itself would be a fantastic year already, and would really set the foundation for a bright future.
Now, we wait… Patiently!