It’s The FA Cup Or Bust For Arsenal

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Another season of borderline mediocrity seems to be on the agenda for Arsenal fans again this year. Arsenal are already out of the title race, trailing the league leaders Chelsea by 12 points after just 11 games.

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The big question this season though, is why? We know why Chelsea are performing so well. Jose Mourinho identified his transfer targets and secured them early. It’s the best way to do your business.

Arsenal though, did not follow Chelsea’s shining example of how to work a transfer window. Two key areas in the Arsenal team that needed strengthening were neglected; a defensive midfielder and a centre back.

This, then, explains why Arsenal are behind Chelsea. However, it doesn’t explain why we seem to be slipping up against other teams lower down the league. Arsène Wenger failed to add to two important areas within the squad, but let’s not forget that he did sign players as well.

Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina, Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers and, most notably, Alexis Sánchez, were added to an Arsenal team that didn’t sell any of their top players and sat at the summit of the Premier League longer than any other team last season. So what has happened?

Sure, we have plunged straight in to the epicentre of yet another monumental injury crisis, but in terms of our forward players, we have more than enough talent to beat the likes of Hull, Leicester, Tottenham and Anderlecht.

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For some reason we haven’t found our rhythm and there are very few players who seem to be performing well. Alexis Sánchez and more recently, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, have almost single-handedly been taking the fight to our opposition.

The Capital One Cup, although almost completely irrelevant, is the first on the list of trophies we can’t win this season. It isn’t something that Arsenal fans are going to lose any sleep over and it was a very good Southampton side that knocked us out.

The Premier League title, as a result of our slow start, is now beyond our reach. Luckily for us though, Manchester United have continued to falter, Manchester City have had a rocky start and Liverpool are a shadow of their former selves without Luis Suárez.

Tottenham look more average than I’ve seen them over the last couple of years and due to the team around us also struggling to find form, we should be on course to finish in the top four again.

As I write that sentence I can hear the collective groans of Arsenal fans reverberating inside my head, but we have to be realistic.

We are still in the Champions League, but we are all seasoned enough to know that it’s now unlikely that we will progress past the last 16. The quarterfinals are, at a push, our best hope.

I don’t mean to be purposefully negative, but Borussia Dortmund are almost guaranteed to top our group, leaving us second. The list of potential opponents this will likely pit us against in the last 16 includes Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain and Atlético Madrid.

Should we face one of those teams, we will be considered the underdogs, and with good reason considering our Champions League endeavours over the last few seasons.

There is a chance that we could draw slightly easier opponents in the last 16. Bayer Leverkusen look likely to top their group and Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto are battling it out to top theirs. The odds that we will get a friendly draw though, are against us.

So, that rules out winning the Capital One Cup, the Premier League and, most likely, the Champions League. What’s left is a trophy that currently resides at the Emirate stadium, the FA Cup.

Aaron Ramsey’s winner against Hull at Wembley in May secured us our first piece of silverware since 2005. We have won the FA Cup 11 times, which is the joint-highest along with Manchester United.

Only a handful of teams have ever successfully defended the FA Cup, and Arsenal are amongst them. If we want to win silverware again this season, we are going to have to repeat that feat.

Given how this season has started, I would be more than happy with another 4th place finish and another FA Cup final win. That isn’t to say though, that I’m not disappointed.

Winning an FA Cup final is always a fantastic occasion but, should that happen this season, there will be an underlying feeling that we know we should be aiming for more.

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