Three Years From Now…
By Sam Oliver
Crystal ball time (aka a bit of close season fun)
Completely out of ideas for material and having an ache to write again after recently finishing my AS levels, I emailed the editor of the site if there was anything in particular he wanted to write about. I was expecting a response maybe asking me to write about potential transfer targets, or who I think should leave the club in the coming season; instead, I have been asked to predict what I think will happen to Arsenal in the next three seasons. This seems a ridiculously challenging task, and I imagine I’ll be proved wrong by September, but here goes. I’ve got the crystal ball out; here’s what I’ve seen…
In: Yaya Sanogo, Gonzalo Higuain and Toby Alderwield. Out: Johan Djourou, Nicklas Bendtner, Vito Mannone, Andre Santos, Francis Coquelin, Maourane Chamakh and Park Ju Yung.
After Laurent Koscielny vowed to stay at the club despite interest from Bayern, Gonzalo Higuain also put pen to paper for the Gunners, in a £22 million deal. After beating Villa 1-0 and Fulham 2-1 in uninspiring but winning performances, Arsenal faced Tottenham Hotspur. A last gasp equaliser from Aaron Lennon meant the sides drew 2-2 after Gonzalo Higuain scored a brace for his new side. Dumped out the Capital One Cup early on by a Championship side, and having narrowly scraped through the Champions League Qualifiers, things weren’t looking good.
However, four Premier league wins on the bounce before the trip to Old Trafford put the Gunners in a good position to challenge the league leaders. A poor performance added disappointment to a 2-0 defeat, and the Gunners were left in third place, already eight points behind leaders Manchester United. Arsene Wenger announced a three year contract extension, which led to a mixed reaction among fans. After A 1-1 draw with Cardiff followed by a game of the same scoreline the following week against Hull City, fans were calling for big signings in the January window. Only eight points were picked up in the five games during the run up to the window, and fans were desperate for new blood. Captain Per Mertesacker had been singled out for criticism, as had Wojiech Szczesny. Santi Cazorla had also been unable to carry on his good form from the previous season, with Gonzalo Higuain, Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs the stand out performers. With Thomas Vermaelen out with a long term injury, Toby Alderwield was purchased from Ajax to provide quality backup to the centre backs Koscielny and Mertesacker.
After three wins out of four in January, Arsenal were still 12 points behind Chelsea, who now occupied first place. A gritty performance in the Champions League meant Arsenal progressed to the last eight for the first time since 2010, but were to go no further after being knocked out by Real Madrid. Arsenal’s league form continued to improve however, and despite still being eleven points off the top, they were third and eight points ahead of fifth.
A heart breaking FA Cup Semi-Final defeat to Manchester City on penalties meant another trophy-less season for the Gunners. Their league form remained fine but unspectacular, finishing the season with a 3-0 win over Norwich City. Gonzalo Higuain ended the season with 20 league goals in 36 games and the club finished the season in 3rd place, with Chelsea in first, thirteen points ahead of Arsenal, and rivals Spurs finishing 5th.
In: Ettiene Capoue and Victor Valdes. Out: Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho and Lukasz Fabianski.
It was a frustrating summer for many Arsenal fans, many of whom wanted more players brought in; however, quality was certainly added to the squad, with Capoue seemingly the tough-tackling midfielder the side had been missing the last few years. Valdes was brought in to challenge Wojiech Szczesny in goal, with youngster Damian Martinez occupying the slot of third choice Goalkeeper. The season began brilliantly with the Gunners, winning six out of their first seven games in the League. Per Mertesacker seemed to be relishing his role of captain much more than previous season, with himself and Laurent Koscielny looking imperious at the back; however, the men who were really catching the eye were Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, both of whom appeared to be showing why they were so highly rated as youngsters by the club. Arsenal were yet again knocked out of the League Cup by a Championship side early on, after a poor performance from an inexperienced team, which led to many fans calling for an improved youth set up. Serge Gnabry and Kris Olsson appeared to be breaking into the first team set up, both of whom had made substitute appearances in the league.
The Gunners first league defeat came away to West Ham United, after a perfectly good Lukas Podolski goal was ruled out by the referee. This left Arsenal two points clear of second placed Manchester United, who they would face at the E******s in three weeks’ time. Before that however, Arsenal had breezed through their Champions League group and emerged victorious from Stamford Bridge. A last minute equaliser from Olivier Giroud earned Arsenal a well-earned point from the game against Manchester United. Santi Cazorla was playing some great football, as he picked up November player of the month. Things were looking good.
A tough Christmas period left Arsenal in second, after dropping points away to Spurs and Fulham. Progression in the FA Cup was achieved with minimal effort, and there was seen to be no need to strengthen by the Manager as no transfer dealings were done in January. A tough Champions League draw saw Arsenal lose to Bayern Munich, but it was now a three horse race between Arsenal, United and Chelsea for the title; FA Cup glory was looking possible, with United, City and Chelsea having all been knocked out.
Arsenal’s league form began to slip, with Gonzalo Higuain struggling for goals, Jack Wilshere out through injury and a severe loss of form from goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Chelsea retained their title, winning 11 out of 11 towards the tail end of the season, playing some blistering football in the process.
Arsenal again finished third, but this time they were seen as genuine title contenders. Tottenham were relegated and driven into bankruptcy by their new manager Tony Pulis, after he spent all the money from the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid on Kenwyne Jones, Andy Wilkinson and Ryan Shotton, which totalled at £84 million (well, you never know).
There was however, the impending FA cup final against Liverpool. Arsenal came from 1-0 down at half time to win 3-1, after a superb second half display, led by Santi Cazorla; Arsenal’s trophy drought was finally over.
In: Sebastien Corchia, Kurt Zouma and Dimitri Payet. Out: Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Lukas Podolski, Kris Olsson, Toby Alderwield and Bacary Sagna
With the vast majority of the club’s stadium debt paid off, most fans were hoping for more spending from Arsene Wenger; they were upset that another winger and a striker were not brought in. The manager had put faith in Serge Gnabry and Yaya Sanogo to step up to the first team. Certain fans were also upset at the departure of Laurent Koscielny, as he finally succumbed to Bayern Munich’s interest. Kris Olsson was also seen as a loss of an exciting young player, but most agreed that his lack of physicality would always be an issue. Most accepted Sagna was past his best and Corchia was brought in, seemingly to compete with Carl Jenkinson for the right back spot, whilst Kurt Zouma was seen as an exciting signing. Despite rumours, Per Mertesacker retained the captaincy.
Difficult fixtures meant that at the end of September Arsenal sat in 5th place, and were also struggling in their Champions League group with 3 points from 2 games. However, things picked up over October and November, with Gonzalo Higuain in the form of his life. Arsenal sat in 3rd place, 6 points off the leaders in before December, having already progressed to the 5th round of the Capital One Cup, with Yaya Sanogo having scored 5 times in 3 games in this competition. Arsenal also scraped through their Champions League group.
16 points out of a possible 18 left Arsenal two points behind leaders Man United, and the two sides faced each other on New Year’s Day; Arsenal came out victorious against Man United for the first time since 2011, with Dimitri Payet scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory. The title was in Arsenal’s hands. Furthermore, Arsenal were through to the final of the Capital One Cup, having faced just one Premiership side in the run in. However, Wenger stuck with the young players who got him to the final, and they were well beaten 4-1 by Chelsea, with Serge Gnabry scoring the consolation goal.
League form continued to be strong, with Arsenal four points ahead of second, and then beating Porto in the last 16. FA Cup defeat to Manchester City was a disappointment but fans remained optimistic. The last eight of the Champions League pitted Arsenal against Real Madrid, where a crushing penalty defeat at the E******s looked to have stripped Arsenal of all confidence. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain continued to play superbly however, and he would pick up the PFA young player of the season, after being nominated for both awards.
Arsenal ended badly, winning only four out of their last 10, finishing in fourth, but merely seven points behind eventual Premier League winners Manchester United. Mentality was clearly an issue, with the squad looking like a far worse group of players after the Real Madrid defeat. Despite ending trophy-less, many agreed the team had masses of potential.
So there you go, what I think will happen to Arsenal in the next three years. In short, more Champions League Football without winning it, an FA cup and a shed load of French players. I’ll probably be entirely wrong. Up the Arsenal!
28th June 2013
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
Gary 7:14am 28th Jun 2013
I can tell you have only just finished your AS levels. What mindless crap. - Post No. 38854
Trennon 7:24am 28th Jun 2013
Wow. The optimism of sad Arsenal fans who cant even imagine success in the future. I hope to God you're single. I can't imagine a significant other having to put up with such a morbid person. So Arsenal will sell 3 times as many first team players as they buy every year? - Post No. 38855
Nick 7:41am 28th Jun 2013
You are weird. - Post No. 38856
lanesra50 7:43am 28th Jun 2013
dont be too harsh on the guy.no one knows what the future may bring.maybe we should dicuss the present i.e.tony adams wanting to be chairman the players who have gone who else should go and who should come.does anyone think rooney would be a good move? - Post No. 38857
KC 8:07am 28th Jun 2013
Well reading that really cheered me up. :-( - Post No. 38858
Tony 8:38am 28th Jun 2013
Everything, except winning the trophy, sounds plausible... - Post No. 38859
Chris Mecoy 8:55am 28th Jun 2013
Hi mate. As a blog writer for a Spurs website, I know how tough it is to find stuff to write about pre-season, but I have to admit, I howled with laughter that you predicted that we would hire Pulis, sell Bale and buy those 3 rubbish players with the money, AND get relegated, but you STILL couldn't believe that Arsenal could win a trophy!! Hilarious. - Post No. 38860
Stroud Green Road Boy 9:55am 28th Jun 2013
2015/2018?? You think that season will last three years? It'll certainly feel like it if Wenger is still in charge. - Post No. 38861
COYSRUS 10:01am 28th Jun 2013
Not a bad assessment. Only surprise is that you think Arsene Wenger will be there after another trophyless season 2013/2014. Don't think you can afford that and keep him. The natives/nomads will be more restless. - Post No. 38862
John Gooner 11:45am 28th Jun 2013
What grade did you give the lad Kevin? - Post No. 38863
BADARSE 11:46am 28th Jun 2013
Sam, thanks. I am a little embarrassed by the rudeness of fellow Gooners posting after this article. Methinks they forget themselves. I can only say many people have virtually no sunshine in their lives, and when the sun does shine, they run into the shade, thanks Beatles. OK, Ive thanked you and the Beatles in the same post, you are in illustrious comany young man. I look forward to your next contribution Gooner. - Post No. 38864
Paul Heaton 13:31pm 28th Jun 2013
BADARSE - whilst I'm not going to be rude about Sam's efforts I think the comments that you refer to stem from the fact that he not only thinks that Podolski will have a perfectly good goal ruled out at Upton Park more than a year hence but that he is able to predict the fixtures for not just the season after next but the one after that too! Personally I think that it would have been much more interesting to hear Sam's thoughts on what another trophless season would mean, especially in the light of the 3 year contract extension for Wenger that he anticipates. - Post No. 38865
Red Member 13:47pm 28th Jun 2013
bit optimistic aren't you? - Post No. 38866
Ron 14:05pm 28th Jun 2013
Pulis for the Spuds? Not so outrageous that. Theyve had far worse over the last 20 years, though ive lost count of how many! - Post No. 38867
Joe S. 14:21pm 28th Jun 2013
I don't think you are too wide of the mark Sam. From this season on the empty drinks cabinet, sorry trophy cabinet at Ashburton Grove is going to seem more and more like an albatross which may be difficult to shake unless there is a massive overhaul in the club's culture. I guess there are going to be a lot of us doubters expelled to the Spud's terraces by zealot AKB's who think finishing one point ahead of Spurs for the second year running as the defining pinnacle of a Premiership seson. - Post No. 38868
maguiresbridge gooner 14:46pm 28th Jun 2013
A decent enough prediction Sam, 13/14 basically more of the same, you forgot a couple of things like all the praise we receive for a gritty performance in the CL even though it means nothing, bouncing on the pitch at carrow road at the final whistle to celebrate our imaginary trophy,and TKOS announcing we have even more money to spend next year.What can you say about 14/15 the keeper situation actually addressed after all this time, the same sprinkling of signings, with our start bouldy must be in charge of the defence.Played great stuff against Bayern in the CL great praise from the fans for failure. More bouncing on the pitch to celebrate finishing third.We win the FA cup the drought finally over and Wenger announces to the world i told you so, i told you we didn't need to spend millions and could win something on the cheap. A real piece of silverware would probably be so alien to the players and the fans that they wouldn't celebrate and everybody would just go home wondering what it was,so no bouncing then. TKOS tells every body who listens the FA cup is just the start so renew now.15/18 more of the same, scrape through CL group, Higuain in the form of his life Arsenal accept bid from whoever wants him, title in hands,finnish fourth, in final and beaten (at least it wasn't Birmingham)beat in the CL great praise for getting so far, the ox sold and the fans still remain optimistic. Celebrate imaginary trophy but forgot to bounce.TKOS announces we have exciting news for the new season but you have to renew first. I hope i'm wrong. - Post No. 38869
BADARSE 15:21pm 28th Jun 2013
Interesting comments after my gripe-though there were before-once more not disappointed by Ron or maguiresbridge gooner. Listen fellas, the chap wanted to write an article to his Gooner bretheren, no mean feat in itself. He asked the Gooner for a topic, was given a remit and made a very speculative stab, but with fun in mind. His title says that, for goodness sake! I think one or two need to come down a level, because a number of sheep follow. I am not contesting individuals views, shared or not by all means have gentle digs, make them ironic, amusing, but enjoy the spirit of the event Gooners. I tell my youngsters we are different to the rest at the Arsenal, it's nice when I am proved right on that score. - Post No. 38870
Roy 17:36pm 28th Jun 2013
Not bad when your scratching around for something to write about during the close season. The only bit I didn't get was how Pulis ends up at Spurs. Do they buy him out of his contract at Harlequins ? - Post No. 38871
garyfootscrayaustralia 17:43pm 28th Jun 2013
One gets the impression that our callow young author has dabbled frequently within that sphere of the arcane known terrestrially as "Football Manager". Beware its' charms, for it is a path that can ruin a young life.... - Post No. 38872
Ron 19:09pm 28th Jun 2013
In 3 years time Wenger will have two years left on his contract. - Post No. 38873
TH 19:19pm 28th Jun 2013
Yeah i play Football Manager too Sam. Amused by people serious saying 'good prediction/assessment'. How the **** do you know? - Post No. 38874
theopants superstar 21:57pm 28th Jun 2013
..."I have been asked to predict what I think will happen to Arsenal in the next three seasons. This seems a ridiculously challenging task, and I imagine I’ll be proved wrong by September, but here goes." Now what part of this are some people struggling to understand? The author is not claiming to be a modern day nostradamus, just allowing his imagination to run a little wild!! - Post No. 38875
BADARSE 22:17pm 28th Jun 2013
theopants superstar, we could get along. - Post No. 38876
BADARSE 22:40pm 28th Jun 2013
Paul Heaton, Sam was charged with a humorous task, write a projection. He did, and did it well! It was nothing to do with what if this, or what if that, just a humorous bit of imagination at work. - Post No. 38877
Denno 9:07am 29th Jun 2013
Fantastic reading. Brilliant creativity backed by historical trends. - Post No. 38878
maguiresbridge gooner 9:08am 29th Jun 2013
BADARSE, I agree it was a very speculative stab and with fun in mind and i was happy to reply in kind,but whats not funny is that Wenger and our club are so predictable now that a crystal ball isn't needed because it's probably a lot closer to whats going to happen in the next couple of seasons than some fans would like to admit. - Post No. 38879
BADARSE 9:33am 29th Jun 2013
Well maguiresbridge gooner your sentiments are shared buddy. It's quite difficult to give a full undertaking of one's position in posting form, I am, like the rest of humanity, a complex character. From the off I've kind of connected with you, I share your pain, misgivings, frustrations, and many other emotions no doubt. Under all of this we clearly share a love of our club. I don't share your resignations though, or your anger. I deal with things differently, but we march together to a similar beat of the drum. I just wish others, who may be of a similar outlook to you, employed a little of your maturity, and good manners. Good old Arsenal! - Post No. 38880
Wombledin 10:01am 3rd Jul 2013
Completely pointless cobblers. - Post No. 38948
BADARSE 14:27pm 3rd Jul 2013
Ha ha. Wombledin. Do you give yourself away with your moniker? Are you a lost Wimbledon soul, without joy, or lightness of spirit, least of all a home? Or are you a Northampton Town man, with your comment about cobblers? Ahh, Northampton Town, Dave Bowen... - Post No. 38956
CanadaGooner 13:48pm 4th Jul 2013
Well, youngman, you're probably to far off. Every player under the moon (and that guy, Suarez) is being linked to Arsenal, but as usual, none gets bought and Wenger does his thing yet again. - Post No. 38981
26th January 2015
Online Ed: Déjà vu in Sussex