It has been a horrible season. On and off the pitch.
From finishing below Spurs to plane wars in the skies of Birmingham. Massive defeats to Bayern Munich, to that period from January to April where we won 2 games from 8, including embarrassing defeats at home to Watford, and then on our travels to WBA and Crystal Palace.
It has not been a great season for Arsenal, as we slipped out of the top 4 for the first time this century.
After Manchester United’s victory in the Europa League, we are the only side in the top 6 of the Premier League to not be in the Champions League next year.
The infighting over Arsene Wenger has grown, embarrassing actions by people in the ground, and online, from both sides of the narrative. There was a point this season where going to football was simply not enjoyable anymore.
But then we come to the last weekend of the Bank Holiday Weekend. A Sunny Afternoon.
Tomorrow we will all be getting up ,getting ready, cafe, breakfast, pub, boots for some sun tan lotion for the bald heads, more beer, then Wembley. Wembley. We are the famous Arsenal and we are going to Wembley.
No matter what has happened this season, what we as fans and a football club have been through, we have a trip to Wembley to get up for tomorrow. One last game of the season. A chance for a real trophy. A chance for some success. And a chance to save our season.
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, top 4 does not matter, finishing above your rivals does not matter, having players winning individual awards does not matter. What matters is the team winning trophies.
In 1993, who finished top 4? Who was top scorer? What team scored the most goals? Which side conceded the least? Who was PFA Young Player of the Year? You can not answer any of these. But you know who won the FA Cup.
In fact, I could probably name the side that won the FA Cup every year since 1990. Even with my drinking now giving me short term memory loss, I still remember the FA Cup winners. I could also name the league winners in those years, and could probably name 90% of League Cup winners.
You see, winning trophies at what people remember. That is a true barometer of success. Not finishing top 4. Not finishing above your rivals.
Take Liverpool and Manchester United this season. The media (and Liverpool fans) have pretended that Liverpool have had a great season this year. One outlet described Liverpool has getting tremendous points haul this season – it was just one more point that Arsenal.
Jurgen Klopp has been celebrated as a genius. Taking Liverpool back into the Champions League for the 2nd time in 8 years. But ultimately, Liverpool won nothing. There 5th consecutive year without a trophy. A single League Cup in 11 years of football.
Meanwhile over in Manchester, they have had a crisis season. An awful season. Jose Mourinho has been exposed as a fraud. As inferior to Jurgen Klopp. Yet Manchester United have won 2 trophies this season – the Europa League and League Cup.
2016/17 will not be remember by Liverpool fans, it is just another season of failure. Meanwhile Manchester United, despite finishing 6th and below their Scouse cousins, will remember another successful trip to Wembley, and another European trophy and great trip to Sweden.
Add in the FA Cup, Manchester United, a club on the slide, have won 3 trophies in a 12 month period (I do not include the Community Shield with that). Liverpool, a club on the up, have won nothing.
Arsenal have a similar scenario with their little sisters up the road, Tottenham Hotspur.
Over the last 4 years, Spurs have made gigantic strides forward. Over that time, Arsenal have lunged from crisis to crisis, slipped down the table. Whilst Spurs have put the pressure on in the last two title races, Arsenal have been nowhere to be seen,
Yet despite the two clubs relative differences in performances over the last 4 years, Arsenal have won 2 FA Cups in that time. Spurs are now 9 years into a trophy drought. 2 league cups in 26 years. Not much is written about their lack of real success. Finishing above Arsenal, putting the pressure on and a new stadium has papered over the massive cracks at the under achieving club.
So back to Arsenal. We have a chance to win the FA Cup on Saturday. A chance for a major honour. A chance to lift silverware. A chance to make it 3 FA Cups in 4 years – and a record 13th. And Arsene Wenger, for all the criticism he has rightly deserved, not just this year but over the last 10 years, has a chance to become the most successful FA Cup winning manager of all time. Not bad for a man who some claim “doesn’t take the completion seriously.”
Would winning the FA Cup make 2016/17 a successful season. YES. But Arsene Wenger should still leave.