The Arsenal are FA Cup winners in the first season in 20+ years that they failed to make the top four. Gooners are torn at the cause and effect of this situation. A large portion of supporters are anti-Arsene Wenger, long time manager and club icon. His “failures” in the recent past have been excused away by pointing to the Kroenke ownership that prioritized the new stadium and subsequent loans to service at the expense of transfer windows.
That Arsene has managed the streak for so long is admirable and even perhaps cause for praise. The last three or four campaigns have not been restricted by the transfer kitty. Huge outlays for Ozil and Sanchez meant a change to a buying club but the league and UCL failures remained.
Injuries (an Arsenal specialty) hindered the league crown the last two years but the saving grace has been the FA Cup. This recent win gives the club three wins in the last four years and putting them over on Manchester United’s 12 to become the winningest club in the competition.
In his time Wenger has managed 7 FA Cups in his trophy case, nearly equaling Tottenham’s historic haul himself. When Spurs won their historic 8th in 1991, Utd had 7 and Arsenal had a mere 4.
The FA Cup is not nearly as prestigious as the league or the European competitions (maybe even with the Euro League?) but it is an accomplishment. I cannot say whether this win will mean Alexis Sanchez will be back (he was brillant again), or if it was enough to keep Wenger for another go, but it was fun to watch an Arsenal squad playing to their potential and not shrinking from the moment like we have so many times before 1.
The irony here is that Arsene Wenger himself is responsible for the lofty, some times unrealistic heights he is measured against. I can envision a situation where the reduced pressure of UCL competition allows Arsenal to concentrate solely on the league next season. Even the Europa League can be interesting. Since 2010, Atletico and Sevilla have won a combined five, while Chelsea and United have snuck in a couple. It is a winnable competitions and a good training ground for the UCL.
Yes, it looked like Conte’s boys were sluggish after celebrating a League win. ↩