Arsenal kept their hopes of silverware alive with a spirited 3-2 victory over Brighton in the FA Cup on Saturday, but will Arsene Wenger silence his critics and end the club’s long wait for a trophy in May?
Arsenal’s search for silverware entered an eighth season in August, an eternity for a club so used to success under the Frenchman. They blew a great chance against Birmingham City in the 2011 League Cup final and missed another golden opportunity in this season’s competition.
A quarter-final at League Two Bradford City was a potential banana skin for the Gunners but it was a tie they should have won with something to spare. However, the plucky underdogs went the distance with Wenger’s men before dumping them out on penalties.
The experienced boss came under fire in the aftermath of the humiliation and there were calls for him to end his long association with the club. Wenger continued and has seen his side breathe life into a season that seemed destined to go the same way as many before.
Arsenal won their next three matches in the Premier League and have scored an impressive number of goals in the past six weeks. However, the league campaign will yield nothing more than another season in the Champions League in 2013-2014. Wenger is well aware two other competitions will determine his future.
Wenger left Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla out of his side to face Brighton but Arsenal had enough to scrape past the impressive Championship outfit and book their place in the fifth round.
It is fair to say Arsenal’s only realistic hope of silverware lies in the FA Cup. They are currently 11/2 in the FA Cup betting markets. The Gunners’ reward for getting past Brighton is a home tie against another Championship side, Blackburn Rovers. Wenger will feel confident of progressing into the last eight and having a real crack at the trophy.
Arsenal are nothing more than outsiders in the Paddy Power Champions League betting odds, with one of the tournament’s favourites awaiting in the round of 16. Bayern Munich represent a significant obstacle to the Gunners and will take some beating.
Wenger’s side, however, have goals in them and could take control of the tie in the first leg at the Emirates Stadium. A positive approach would put the Germans under pressure, given their poor record against English clubs.
Arsenal have turned things around of late. They will need to improve further if they are to taste success.