Arsenal secured fourth place in the Premier League on Sunday, following a 1-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park. The Gunners have had an up and down season, but in the end a top-four finish ensures Champions League football for next term. Arsene Wenger will look to strengthen this summer, and with a bit of continuity hopefully Arsenal can challenge for honours in 2013-14.
Fourth place will never be good enough for Arsenal fans, who still long for the Premier League title winning days of early in the Wenger reign. No one at the Emirates Stadium would have bet that this team would replicate The Invincibles’ achievements, but hopes of finishing closer to the top remain. Unibet had the Gunners as favourites to finish four ahead of Tottenham, but this should be seen as the bare minimum rather than the objective achieved.
Since the 2-1 defeat to Spurs at White Hart Lane, Arsenal have shown the grit and determination needed to grind out the results to secure a top-four place. A point total of 73 points was an improvement on the season prior, but shows that for the north London outfit to challenge for top honours further improvement is needed.
There have been a number of highlights domestically for the Gunners in 2012-13. The 5-2 demolition of Spurs at the Emirates will not be forgotten in a hurry, while a number of players have found their feet. The signing of Santi Cazorla has been a major plus, as has the return to fitness and form of Jack Wilshere. A number of the younger players in the squad have extended their contracts, as has Theo Walcott.
However, the Gunners must start to get positive results against the other top teams in the division to become title challengers. The club has had question marks over its defence at times this season, and it appears a number of new players are needed to take Arsenal to the next level.
In the Champions League, the home loss to Bayern Munich and the manner of defeat was a low point for the Gunners. However, given the quality of the opposition, the comeback at the Allianz Arena and the fact that Arsenal made it through to the knockout stages once more, this can overlooked slightly.
Arsenal are a club where finishing fourth can never be deemed a success, but avoiding dropping out of the Champions League qualification places must be seen as a massively positive thing. The club needed to invest in the summer, and if they get off to a strong start next season progression, and a potential title challenge, are feasible objectives.