For the last nine seasons there has been one main objective for Arsenal: to win a trophy, any trophy really, with the secondary objective of qualifying for the Champions League which has been the Gunners’ minimum requirement since Arsene Wenger’s arrival in 1996.
Saturday’s sensational triumph over Hull at Wembley in the FA Cup Final now sees the North Londoners past the post and over the line, so how should their attitude change next season?
Firstly, the issue of Wenger’s future must be resolved – it looks highly likely the 64-year-old French coach will stay on at the Emirates beyond June when his current deal expires – some reports are suggesting this week that he will agree to the terms of a three-year deal.
The next consideration will, of course, be the transfer market, within which the club are expected to reinvest as much as £100 million this summer. Whilst I have my own personal reservations as to whether that figure is accurate and I would suspect the club will spend closer to half of that perhaps, there is no doubt the club will use the FA Cup win this term as a springboard to kick on to further glories.
Having had the fourth spot as the lowest league position the Gunners could aim for each season, I think they really ought to be challenging genuinely for the league title next term – I believe the fans would understand if they don’t win the Premier League as long as they push and challenge and remain competitive throughout the season, perhaps finishing second or even third.
Arsenal were top of the Premier League for a total of 127 days this season, longer than any other club, but, ultimately they fell away in March and beyond, mainly due to injuries and a lack of squad depth, so making signings to provide strength in depth must surely be the main priority for the club this summer.
A points tally of 79 would have seen them in a higher position in other seasons perhaps but the challenge posed by the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United will probably be even greater next time around as those clubs will also strengthen in the transfer window.
So Arsenal will need to bring in some top-level players in key areas as well as replacing any outgoings such as Lukasz Fabianski, Bacary Sagna, Nicklas Bendtner and possibly even captain Thomas Vermaelen.
Finishing higher than fourth is fine as long as they keep their challenge until the final stages and another cup victory would surely offset that if they couldn’t win the title.
I think it’s definitely far too soon to be talking about a challenge in the Champions League but making it to the quarter-finals could be another objective to improve on 2013/14.
Arsenal will have more confidence and belief going forward in 2014/15, but they must strengthen to ensure they move in the right direction from here – onwards and upwards.