Arsenal and the season of invisible trophies

In his latest end-of-season review, Vincent Ralph looks back on Arsenal's campaign.

You can say one thing about the Wenger boys: they are certainly consistent.

Every season they plump up those hopes and stride forth into a glorious future, only to throw away any chance of silverware by the following March, while still gaining a place at Europe’s top table.

This season was no different. They won nothing, but finished fourth; a feat that rather confusingly prompted the whole squad to dance around as if there was an invisible trophy in front of them. But that is a measure of success these days.

Wigan and Swansea won the domestic cups, but Arsenal can add to their air miles.

At the start of the season I was excited for the Gunners. It was clear that Santi Cazorla was a steal and that Lukas Podolski is a player even when there isn’t a major international tournament.

Plus – and I whispered it at the time in case he got injured in all the excitement – Jack Wilshere was back!

But in the end Arsenal fell short both here and abroad; although the two were markedly different.

Domestically they lost to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup and Bradford City in the League Cup. And when you consider the ultimate victors in those competitions, Wenger will be adding two more if-onlys to his burgeoning collection.

And yet in Europe, the phrase “glorious failure” is befitting their efforts against the juggernaut that is Bayern Munich. The way the two sides played that night, Arsenal could have overturned their 3-1 first leg deficit; that they only scored two should not detract from their attempt.

It was that night that became the catalyst for their end-of-season run, a series of results that saw them remain in Bayern’s company next season, the run that sealed their invisible trophy.

Back in August, I also suspected that Theo Walcott would keep talking about signing a new contract while conveniently avoiding all forms of writing equipment. But in the end he proved me wrong. And he wasn’t the only one.

The Gunners have finally lost their tag as the losers of great talent. For once they have tied it down, in the hope of adding to rather than replacing once the transfer window reopens.

Arsenal will end the season with smiles on their faces. And they will begin the following one with high hopes.

For those hopes to become a reality they must ensure they do not simply repeat the same old season – of disappointments, of almosts, of elation prompted not by success but by receiving another invite to a party they rarely stay at until the end.

It is time for a different kind of season. One the Emirates is yet to see.

image: © wonker

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