It’s been 17 years since Arsenal last won a league title. Arsene Wenger delivered the 2003-04 title to Highbury but since then, it has been a steep decline for us. Today, let us explore some reasons why Arsenal haven’t been able to recreate their title-winning team again and why The Emirates hasn’t seen a league title yet.
The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal moved into the Emirates Stadium in 2006-07. The cost of the Emirates Stadium, 390 million USD was too much for a club of Arsenal’s finances. Due to this, Arsene Wenger had no choice but to raise funds as the then TV deal wasn’t as lucrative as the current one. Arsenal simply had no other choice but to become a selling club.
The departures of stars like Ashley Cole, Freddie Ljunberg, Sol Campbell, Lauren and most importantly the ‘King’ Thierry Henry quickly followed.
Arsene Wenger had a tough job on his hand, he had to keep up with the Manchester United and the newly rich Chelsea and without the appropriate funds, it was nearly impossible. Wenger focused on youth, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor were the spine of his team. And additions of the likes of Alex Song, Thomas Vermaelen were not up to the calibre of players that they had succeeded.
Arsene Wenger also had to keep up with riches of Chelsea along with Manchester United. Roman Abramovich spent to his heart’s content and without the current Financial Fair Play regulations, there was no one to stop him. Chelsea won back to back league titles under Mourinho from 2004-06 and Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t need to sell his best players like Arsene Wenger. With the accusation of Man City by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, Wenger had another rival, another added competition. Without the spending power of Man city, Chelsea, Man United or Liverpool, Arsenal were falling behind. The advancement of Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino meant Arsenal were no longer tipped to finish in the Champions league places. In the current day, even Leicester and Wolves look to get Champions league football before Arsenal.
Though Arsene Wenger didn’t have the luxury of signing superstars, he did manage to come close to winning the league title. In the 2009-10 season, Arsene Wenger challenged for the league title with his young squad. But an injury to Aaron Ramsey destroyed the best chance Wenger had in years to win another league title. Injuries also put the end of the promising career of Jack Wilshere and the Midfield Maestro Santi Cazorla. Laurent Koscielny’s recurring injuries meant Arsenal had to cope without a real leader and a competent defender at the back. Currently, Hector Bellerin looks to be in danger of becoming stagnant as he has had too many injuries in recent memory.
The 2015-16 season where Leicester won the league, Arsenal were the best side. Mesut Ozil racked up 19 assists with a significant amount of time left in the season, but Oliver Giroud’s lack of competent finishing meant Arsenal lost momentum, Ozil was left on 19 assists and Arsenal finished 2nd. That 2015-16 season, Arsenal should’ve won the league but luck was not on their side.
The final Wenger years
Arsene Wenger had the freedom to spend considerably at the end of his tenure. Wenger managed to bring in some very talented players like Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette, and Pierre EmerickAubameyang but Wenger had lost his touch. The game had evolved and Wenger simply failed to keep up with the modern game. The years of lack luster spending had taken their toll and Arsenal were no longer an elite club anymore. Wenger had stayed at the helm for too long and the Board, didn’t plan ahead.
The lack of planning meant Arsenal appointed Unai Emery, a coach who’s style of play didn’t match with Arsenal’s philosophy. Emery was simply out of his depth, though he had a strong start to his managerial reign it wouldn’t last. His tactics were invisible and his player selection was bizarre. He lost the dressing room and Arsenal lost their big club status.
With the appointment of Mikel Arteta, things are looking bright but in the short while, Arsenal are no longer elite. It will be while for Arsenal to get back into the Champions League places let alone win the league title. But the Arsenal faithful, remain hopeful.