“It’s for the Arsenal and we’re going to Wembley!
Wembley! Wembley! We’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wembley!”
As we stand on the threshold of the 2018-19 EPL season, it is with a cheerful smile that all Gunners will look forward. 15 years since our last PL trophy, we have lost our claim on the coveted top-4 place which used to serve as a consolation prize for a million Gunners around the globe: something our innocent hearts used to cherish as a PL trophy in itself. And yet, with a heavy heart, we are but a shadow of the club that used to stalk demons and slay them with a banish of their wands. But with a paradigm shift of an unprecedented magnitude underway at Arsenal Football Club, we are staring at a possibility of yet another bite of the Big Apple.
Here’s listing 5 reasons why Arsenal finishing in the top 4 is a realistic expectation:
1. Unai Emery
The biggest reason has to be the man calling the shots: the new head coach of Arsenal F.C. For more than a decade, our generation has found the name Arsenal synonymous with the Grand Old Man of Arsenal. And yet in a vocation shift of aeonic magnitude, Unai Emery took over the reigns of the club at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. And with him, came a breath of fresh air in an enigma of gloom and desperation that hung over London Colney. Like a fresh spring gust of wind, Emery has brought in a philosophy of positive-mindedness and optimism that was so lacking in the team. With a shower of positive world-class signings which spoke of intent and composure, Emery has brought in a revolution that can only mean one thing: It is on.
2. Lacazette-Aubameyang partnership
With a combined 24 goals in less than half a season together, the dynamic strike duo is calling the shots. Proving time and again why Arsenal have the best strike partnership in the league, they have bundled in goals left and right for a club who had lacked a genuinely proven goalscorer ever since Robin van Persie departed for United. Although, Wenger had mostly benched Lacazette and played the Gabonese hit-man for most league matches, it is clear that Emery plans to keep both in action simultaneously. While one of them may operate as an inside forward, it will hardly do any defenders any good to take them lightly, for the French-Gabon partnership looks as lethal as it gets.
3. Lucas Torreira
A glaring discrepancy in Wenger’s plans was the lack of a genuine defensive midfielder. Since the time of Gilberto, Arsenal have been playing with a make-shift DM, from Flamini to Coquelin to Xhaka. And boy! Oh boy! A regista in Xhaka was burdened with defensive duties. Playing out passes with vision unparalleled, Xhaka often found himself cursing his stars for his failure to help in play-making, like he generally did with Gladbach or does with Switzerland. But with Lucas Torreira beside him, an exciting time lies ahead for Gunners and for AFC. Relieved of defensive duties, it will be a litmus test for the Swiss star. Additionally,Torreira will provide the much-needed backup to the frail Arsenal back-line, especially when the high-pressing fullbacks in Bellerin and Kolasinac/Monreal push up. Usually, that would leave tracts of space for a forward to cut in through, an issue which was never really addressed prior to Torreira’s signing. Coming off the back of an impressive World Cup campaign with Uruguay, Torreira is a prospect to watch out for, tailor-built for PL with a barrage of tricks up his sleeve.
4. ‘der Rabe’
Coming on the back of a disappointing World Cup campaign where Germans were the shock exits from the first round, Mesut Ozil was scapegoated, unfairly in my opinion, and more so because of his meeting with Turkish President Raceyp Erdogan. With political tension between the countries at an all-time high, the meeting did not go down too well with the German officials and the German media as they blasted the play-maker with a barrage of racial and pseudo-nationalist slurs. Pushed to the edge, Ozil was forced to take retirement from international football, choosing to announce it with a heartfelt letter. The onus will be on Ozil to prove himself in the PL this season and force the German media and the board to introspect on their political motivations.
5. Promising youth talents
With an exciting blend of young talents in an optimum fusion with experience, players like Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Callum Chambers, Rob Holding, Emil Smith Rowe and our new signing Matteo Guendouzi. With composure unreal in players of the age bracket and talent a-plenty, these boys are surely calling the shots for a chance in the first team. EFL and Europa games may prove to be their making or their breaking.