Failing to reach the top four for the first time in twenty years is a true indication into how the 2016/2017 has unravelled in front of our eyes, with yet another mid-season collapse proving fatal as the team were unable to claw their way out of the hole they dug themselves into. It has done little to dampen the growing disharmony at the club, with fans continuing to be divided over Arsene Wenger’s future as manager as he remains silent over what his plans are. His perceived stubbornness and arrogance has left everyone in limbo, and with growing rumours that Alexis Sanchez has decided to leave for pastures new after missing out on Champions League football proved to be the final straw for a player who has cut a disconsolate figure in recent weeks, the fallout from a hugely disappointing campaign could have lasting consequences. However, despite all the doom and gloom at the Emirates, it could all have a silver lining if Arsenal are triumphant against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Facing a team that dominated the Premier League for the majority of the season and finished eighteen points ahead of us sums up the size of the task that lies ahead for Arsenal, but in a winners-take-all match, anything can happen. It should be remembered that we beat Chelsea 3-0 at home back in September, but the contrast in fortunes following that game has been remarkable; the defeat ultimately galvanised Antonio Conte’s side who went on to win thirteen league games in a row and ultimately run away with the title, while the Gunners let old habits bite them in the backside yet again as a very promising start to the campaign disintegrated after a number of poor performances and results. Bookmaker Ratings will undoubtedly rate Arsenal as underdogs, despite the fact we have won our last five games as our valiant effort to catch Manchester City and Liverpool proved to be in vain. It should be enough for the players to go into the game with belief and spirit, but they should need no motivation for a game of huge importance for themselves and their manager. His future at the club would come under even further scrutiny if the Gunners were to lose at Wembley, and although picking up the trophy would still not be enough to convince the ‘Wenger Out’ brigade that he is the man to be at the helm next season, FA Cup glory would at least give the fans something to cheer and maybe an element of hope that things will get better.
It will take something drastic to remove the bitter taste of missing out on the top four and being comprehensively beaten 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich, but you could argue that the FA Cup Final represents a potential tonic. Time will tell as to whether the result, win or lose, has any bearing on Wenger’s future, even though he has already decided what he is going to do; it would be nice to believe that if it is to be his last game in charge of Arsenal, he tells the players in private in the days leading up to the game so they give him one hundred percent on the pitch in order to give Wenger a fitting send-off and reclaim some pride after what has happened this season. It would be then down to Kroenke and the board to appoint a manager who would change the mentality at the club and get Arsenal firing on all cylinders again, and while someone like Thomas Tuchel or Diego Simeone would certainly enhance our chances of featuring in the free betting tips listed on Bookmaker Ratings to challenge for the 2017/2018 Premier League title, we simply do not know what is going to happen after the FA Cup Final.
Our chances of triumphing at Wembley have been severely damaged after not only Laurent Koscielny got himself stupidly sent off for a reckless tackle against Everton, but Gabriel Paulista was also stretchered off in the same game. Add in the growing fears that Shkodran Mustafi will not be passed fit after suffering from concussion, and Wenger could have a real defensive crisis on his hands – hardly the best time when we are about to face the second-highest scorers in the Premier League with 85 goals. It will place even greater onus on Sanchez and Mesut to step up to the plate and produce the big moments that could win the FA Cup for Arsenal, with the former more than capable of winning the game on his own if he has to. The Gunners have no choice but to front up and have a real go against the best team in the Premier League this season, but even if some fans feel like victory at Wembley is not enough for a club like Arsenal, it would certainly provide a disappointing season with a flourish that provides hope for the future.