All Guns Blazing: Arsenal fans may struggle to find a silver lining to this season

The Arsenal players leave the field dejected after the final whistle beyond Barcelona's Lionel Messi

The Arsenal players leave the field dejected after the final whistle beyond Barcelona's Lionel Messi (foreground) (Nick Potts/PA Wire) - Credit: EMPICS Sport

News just in: Arsene Wenger has signed a new three-year contract… April fools!

It says a lot that I got this hilarious message from at least three people last Friday. But then again, it is a rather depressing time to be a Gooner.

For as welcome as Leicester’s improbable charge towards the title is, Arsenal’s position makes it harder to enjoy than most.

Tottenham can relish being in a Champions League place again, while Manchester City fans are looking forward to having Pep Guardiola next season. Unless you have seriously underachieved, like Manchester United and Chelsea, there’s a silver lining for this campaign, and even for those two, they have the financial backing and enough recent success to suggest they’ll be back to winning ways sooner rather than later.

For Arsenal, though, perhaps the hardest thing to accept is the sense of stagnation. Whatever happens now, no matter how many ‘Arsene Out’ banners are being unfurled, ultimately you know next season it will be the same story, just with a slightly altered group of players.

There is no doubt that we’ve missed the boat now. With the games Tottenham have still to play, there’s a fair chance that we’ll come second in the table, which only brings our shortcomings into sharper perspective. When the greatest achievement of your season is a potentially last-minute St Totteringham’s Day, you know it’s not been a vintage year.

After two successive years of FA Cup success, it’s an odd feeling to have nothing to play for, but one we’ve become accustomed to enough in the last decade. But really, what can we do?

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I understand the argument that Wenger has had his time, and perhaps the starkest change in 2016 is that many more fans have come to such a conclusion.

However, with Stan Kroenke – a thoroughly uninterested, business-orientated owner – in charge, there is always going to be a glass ceiling which we fail to break through. And while it’s exciting watching talents like Alex Iwobi make an impact, it’s not enough when he’s the best story you have as a Gooner come April.

Perhaps it’s too early to congratulate Leicester but, while Wenger can cling to hope, it’s not too early to start the post-mortem for Arsenal’s season. The worst part of it all, though, is that no-one who matters is interested in the results.

Follow me @alexbellotti

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