CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Arsenal fan groups have joined forces to declare their dissatisfaction

04 July, 2019

A number of Arsenal fan groups have joined forces to declare their dissatisfaction with the way absentee owner Stan Kroenke is running the club. The Gunners have just finished outside the top four for a third consecutive season and they are still licking their wounds after a humiliating Europa League final defeat. Thus far the transfer window has been full of disappointment for fans as the club has failed to secure any of its targets. Supporters are in a mutinous mood and they have demanded meaningful action from Kroenke to reinvigorate the ailing club.

Yet the owner has fully lived up to his Silent Stan moniker by failing to respond to fans’ impassioned pleas. They are furious, and a glance at the betting odds for the 2019/20 season will do little to lift the mood. The best betting websites make Arsenal huge underdogs to win the Premier League and they are also clear outsiders in the top four wagering market. They are behind Man Utd in the Europa League betting and they are also 14/1 outsiders to win the FA Cup.

The club could really do with some silverware next season in order to quell supporters’ anger. It is unrealistic to expect Arsenal to mount a genuine title challenge against the well-oiled machines of Man City and Liverpool, so a cup competition is surely their best chance of success. Despite operating on a far smaller budget than his rivals, Arsene Wenger managed to guide Arsenal to FA Cup glory in 2014, 2015 and 2017. That helped ease the toxicity bubbling away among the fan base and it injected a semblance of optimism into the club, so Unai Emery should take the cup seriously this season. But can Arsenal defy the odds and lift the famous trophy once more?

Much depends on how much effort their rivals put into winning it. Arsenal could feasibly beat Man Utd, Spurs or Chelsea over 90 minutes. The Blues are likely to go backwards now that Eden Hazard has decamped to Madrid and a transfer ban prevents them from signing a quality replacement. Man Utd looked to be in dire straits under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, and Arsenal dominated Tottenham in their two meetings. However, it would be a stretch to think they could beat a fired-up Man City or Liverpool.

Those two were streets ahead of the competition last season, as Man City romped to a domestic treble and Liverpool clinched the Champions League. Arsenal have now lost their last four matches against Man City and they have not beaten them since 2015, back when Santi Cazorla was bossing the midfield. They have also been on the end of some real hidings at the hands of Liverpool. Their main hope is that those teams will be so focused on battling hammer and tongs with one another to win the Premier League, or that they will have one eye on massive Champions League clashes, allowing Arsenal to prevail in the cup.

Yet either way they will face ferocious competition. Gone are the days when big teams did not bother with the FA Cup. The 2008 final between Portsmouth and Cardiff is now a distant memory, and big teams see the cup as an important avenue for securing silverware. Since Portsmouth’s triumph, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City and Man Utd have dominated it, with Wigan’s shock 2013 victory the only anomaly.

If they are to secure another FA Cup win, Arsenal will need to toughen up in midfield and sort the defence out this summer. Laurent Koscielny is on strike and unlikely to play again. Shkodran Mustafi has frequently been calamitous. There are doubts over Calum Chambers’ ability to play at the highest level. Rob Holding has been injured for almost a year, while Hector Bellerin is a long-term absentee. Sokratis is a big player at the back, but he needs help, and Arsenal need to appease the fans by making some bold forays into the transfer market. They have some fantastic strikers, while Bernd Leno is solid, but they need to improve in almost every other department if they are to challenge for silverware this season.

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