With Arsenal beating Aston Villa 4-0 to clinch victory in the English FA Cup Final at the weekend, Arsene Wenger has now guided the team to six wins in the competition since his appointment in 1996 besides winning the Premier League on four occasions. The Gunners outplayed an Aston Villa team restricted to just two shots at goal throughout the contest with none on target, as Arsenal displayed much resolution in defence while always offering a threat in attack. In retaining the FA Cup after beating Hull City in the Wembley final last season, Wenger has once again become a popular manager at the Emirates but that has not always been the case in the past two seasons.
Back in December, when Arsenal conceded three first half goals at Stoke in an eventual 3-2 loss, Wenger was the subject of much unpleasant abuse by angry supporters suggesting that he left the Emirates. There had also been a banner unfurled at an earlier away match at West Brom demanding his departure.
Questions had been asked last season as to whether Wenger still retained the ambition of leading Arsenal to further silverware after failing to secure a trophy since 2005, but the Frenchman ignored such protests and was quietly rebuilding a team capable of challenging Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United in the Premier League. 6-3, 5-1 and 6-0 defeats at the Etihad, Anfield and Stamford Bridge respectively last season did suggest that Wenger’s days at the Emirates may be numbered, but during the recently finished campaign, there has been more consistency in results with one or two fringe players becoming established in the Arsenal first team squad.
Wenger has often appeared reluctant to pay exorbitant fees for players with Mezut Ozil and the successful Alexis Sanchez proving an exception, but two members of Saturday’s cup winning team have only recently emerged as regular first team members and provide evidence of the Asrenal manager’s preferred method of allowing players to develop over time.
20 year old Hector Bellerin has become a regular and dependable right-back with Mathieu Debuchy unavailable for lengthy periods due to injury, whereas Francis Coquelin has become an integral cog within the Arsenal midfield after successful loan spells at Freiburg and Charlton. Wenger is not afraid to show patience with players if he views sufficient long-term potential and in an era when high-profile signings are seemingly demanded by home supporters, that policy may not always be too popular.
Furthermore, with just two Premier League defeats since February, Arsenal have finished the season suggesting that they could offer a threat to Chelsea and Manchester City next season especially as just nine competitive goals have been conceded since the onset of March.
Another Premier League trophy would delight Arsene Wenger, but perhaps the one item of silverware which would finally silence his detractors is ultimate victory in the Champions League, a trophy which still eludes the Frenchman. That would surely appease those fans who jeered the Frenchman at Stoke.