All Guns Blazing: Arsene Wenger is the man to turn Arsenal’s frsutration into progress
14:42 06 January 2015
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In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Uche Amako looks back at 2014 as a year of mixed fortunes.
Elation. Despair. Relief. Anger. Progress. Frustration.
Those words could quite easily describe 2014 for Arsenal and you get the feeling you could say the exact same thing this time next year.
Having had our best opening half to a league season for a long while, we started full of hope and optimism and beat Cardiff 2-0 at the Emirates on New Year’s Day.
Arsenal then headed into a crucial period which would make or break our season and we faltered spectacularly at Anfield, against a very poor Man United team at home and against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
We navigated our way through some tricky ties in the FA Cup and won at White Hart Lane, but the 6-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge in Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game as our manager made it feel like his long reign was coming to a depressing end.
But Arsenal recovered. Like they always seem to do. No club mixes complete disarray with huge resilience better.
We finished the season strongly, then came the FA Cup Final. Wenger’s face as he lifted the trophy will live with me forever. The years of sacrifice, criticism, abuse, but total commitment to the cause had finally been rewarded and the sense of euphoria was profound.
Five fresh faces and multiple exits followed in the summer. But the much-needed defensive reinforcement was absent and it has taken its toll.
A slow start, hampered by injuries to key individuals at various points, has left Wenger unable to field what he would call his strongest team. Too many draws, individual errors on the pitch and the bemusing decision to change formation has left Arsenal playing catch-up.
Winning a trophy after a lengthy drought should mean that 2014 is seen as progress – but that feeling has slowly ebbed away through a catalogue of issues on and off the pitch.
A growing ill-will towards Wenger has arisen, which is nasty and unwarranted. Regardless of your feeling towards him, he deserves better treatment and respect.
Because he is the man capable of turning the recent signs – albeit small ones – of progress into something tangible.
And if we can get key players fit, boost the squad with quality defensive players and regain our je ne sais quoi in attack, anything is possible in 2015.
Follow me @UcheAmako