Arsenal The Gunners Season 2013
Arsene Wenger will continue to be a man under pressure at the helm of the Gunners, for as long as the wait for silverware drags on. It has been eight long seasons since they lifted the FA Cup in 2005, their last title in the Premier League coming the season before that. With another frustrating and faltering campaign in the Premier League in terms of mounting a title challenge (where they are at best an outside shot with bookmakers football odds), they will have to be targeting the FA Cup hard in order to get their hands on something to put in the trophy cabinet. A little unpredictable at times, they do have the flair and attacking prowess in their ranks to go deep into the knockout competition.
Value will be the word to describe the Gunners in the FA Cup, as they fall down the pecking order behind the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. The more home games they draw, the further they will go, you feel, with their mettle and ability to dig deep being called into question. After crashing out of the League Cup against League Two side Bradford in a penalty shoot-out, not all is lost on the season for Arsene Wenger just yet. Lifting the FA Cup at Wembley would go along way to keep fans and critics quiet.
Arsenal also still have a European campaign to contest, but after failing to win their Champions League group stage, finishing runner up to Spanish side Malaga, they were handed a tough draw in the round of sixteen. The Gunners have to face off against Germany’s Bayern Munich when the Champions League resumes with the knockout stage. Bayern, losing finalists in the tournament last season have put on a dominating display in the German Bundesliga and look as if they will be runaway winners of the league title there. But Munich have historically struggled against English sides in the tournament.
Still it will be a tough match up for Arsenal and will be underdogs for the big clash. The two sides have only met four times before, with Bayern leading the head to head 2-1 against the Gunners. The last time they met was in the quarter final stage of the 2004/05 season with Munich winning 3-2 on aggregate. The best finish that Arsenal have produced was finishing runners up in the 2005/06 Champions League, losing at the round of sixteen in the previous two editions.
Success this season for Arsenal will be on the shoulders of former Bayern Munich star Lukas Podolski and Frenchman Olivier Giroud. They look likely to duel it out to finish top scorer at Arsenal for the season, with creative playmaker Santi Cazorla pushing hard as well. England’s Theo Walcott, who has been demanding more time in a centre forward role instead of playing on the wing, could be the most pivotal player in Arsenal’s season. Can he turn into a prolific goalscorer in the footsteps of Thierry Henry and fire the Gunners to success?