I could easily class the 03/04 Premier League season as the best season I have ever witnessed. Growing up in urban South London, I went to school with a large number of Arsenal supporters and as Palace were doing their usual stumble around the Division 1 table I took a keen interest in this unforgettable season.
Photo credit Daily Mail
The marvelous quality that oozed from the “Invincibles” left me speechless. Having the honor of watching the likes of Vieira, Pires and Henry in their prime will always ensure I look upon The Gunners with the utmost respect – however, old habits die hard and this season Arsenal will not finish inside the Top 4.
I have accepted a high level of abuse for this statement – rightly so – but in this article I will attempt to justify my ramblings. Listeners of the PUPcast will understand I frequently refer to Arsenal sarcastically and quip that the Wenger boys will fail to reach the sought after Champions League spots this season for the first time since records began and this would be down to one key, reoccurring factor – the injury list.
Since the Invincible season, Arsenal have failed to win a title. So what went wrong? Apart from key players leaving or reaching their peak, each season since has been riddled with pesky injuries and seemingly never fit superstars. Abou Diaby has been on the end of a number of football jokes but interestingly Theo Walcott has almost rivaled him to the top spot, accumulating 353 playing days of injuries in just 4 seasons.
|16/17||Hamstring Injury||12 days|
|15/16||Calf Injury||33 days|
|14/15||groin strain||28 days|
|13/14||Cruciate Ligament Rupture||280 days|
Previously, Arsenal have never had enough depth to cover these long-term absentees. Robin van Persie missed a number of games in the 09/10 season and Carlos Vela and Eduardo’s pitiful effort of 7 goals combined did little to fill the void. For those of you that need reminding of Eduardo, look below:
“But that’s the past!” I hear you cry and yes you are correct but Sanchez just pulled his groin on international duty, Bellerin is out for 4 weeks and Koscielny is a doubt for the clash against Bournemouth. The replacements? Carl Jenkinson, Olivier Giroud and Gunnersaurus. Danny Welbeck is still presumably dead. Oh, and Walcott is injured. Again.
DOUBT: Alexis Sanchez – back strain carrying the team
DOUBT: Theo Walcott – personal reasons (shit cunt)
OUT: Hector Bellerin – ankle
OUT: Lucas Perez – ankle
OUT: Santi Cazorla – archilles
OUT: Chuba Akpom – back (who is this guy?)
OUT: Per Mertesacker – crippled
OUT: Danny Welbeck – dead
I am almost certain that the backlash I will receive come May will be harsh and plentiful but for now with Arsenal sitting in their favored 4th place – I can confidently say that Arsenal will not finish Top 4 this season.
Listen to the Arsenal mid-season review here!