If you were to have a conversation with an Arsenal fan a few days ago you would have been mistaken to think their trophy drought was a thing of the past.
There has been a renewed optimism among the Arsenal faithful in North London and across the world this season.
Arsenal are playing the football of their lives- effervescent, controlled, tactical, organized, arrogant even. Teams that have stood in their way have been brushed aside with embarrassing ease. Superlatives have been flowing as the well oiled Gunners machine marched on incessantly game after game. An impressive 2-0 win over fellow title hopefuls Liverpool at the Emirates was followed by a solitary away goal win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Arsenal had confounded all their critics by putting together a series of memorable wins.
When Luis Suarez came to Anfield on the back of a 22 million pound transfer from Ajax much was expected from him.
On the field he did not disappoint. Despite limited playing time Suarez shone. Every time he touched the ball the footballing public leaned forward in anticipation.
His mesmerizing skills never failed to amaze and he hit the back of the net with regularity. Last season he was second only to Robin Van Persie in the scoring charts.
His off the field antics were however another matter altogether. From the Patrice Evra racial slur incident to the Ivanovich bite saga he courted controversy with every turn.
Suarez is now in the eye of the storm. Reason? His demand for a transfer from Liverpool to rivals Arsenal.
As is common with football players the world over, when the going was good Suarez sang lyrical of his desire to play for the Reds. That is before the parting of ways.
Indeed interestingly this is what Suarez said after the unsavoury Ivanovich incident:
“Let me be that I am and seek not to alter me.”
― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
This quote from one of Shakespeare's greatest works is for the large part descriptive of Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger's transfer policy.
It is almost 9 years now since Arsenal won a trophy after a penalty by Patrick Vieira sunk bitter rivals Manchester United and guaranteed the Gunners the FA Cup in the 2004-2005 season.
That was the last time an Arsenal Captain was to lift a trophy of any kind.
Since then it has been near miss after near miss with Arsenal flattering to deceive.
So what has been Arsenal's Achilles heel?
One would need to dig deep to find out the reason behind Arsenal's trophy drought.
After all the back room staff and the manager have by and large remained the same.
Importantly, of all the managers in the EPL, (save of course for the departed Sir Alex of Manchester United) Wenger has had unwavering and solid support from the club's top brass.
“I have not failed. I have just found 10, 000 ways that won’t work.”
This quote by the great inventor Thomas Edison aptly describes the school of thought of the current Arsenal team and in particular its coach, Arsene Wenger.
After another nondescript season (their eighth without a title) Arsenal as always have had a sudden burst of enthusiasm towards the end of the season. After a winning run that was momentarily halted by a barren draw with Everton the Gunners are currently in fourth position, seemingly poised for a 16th consecutive Champions League qualification.
They say that success is measured in different ways. At Chelsea Jose Mourinho was shown the door despite winning 6 trophies in 3 glamorous seasons. In doing so he became the most successful manager in the club’s history. In other clubs a win percent of over 67% would have been sufficient for immortality. Not at Chelsea.
Liverpool is yet another classic example. In the period of time that Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal Liverpool have had 5 different managers in their quest for a return to glory.
A few years back the mere thought of discussing a replacement for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal would have been sacrilegious. Events of the recent past have now altered this reasoning, the tide has now shifted. The managerial position at Arsenal, once synonymous with Wenger is now seemingly up for grabs.
Minutes after Arsenal crashed out of the FA Cup after a humiliating 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Championship side Blackburn, the long knives that had been barely sheathed all season long came out once again. The crescendo of boos at the Gunners home turf at the final whistle were resounding (one would even say deafening) and defined a turning point in the fortunes of a club that was once a European powerhouse.
It was not just the defeat, after all soccer is an adversarial sport with a winner in a cup tie the imminent tale of the joust; it was the manner of the defeat that rankled the Emirate faithful.