The 2012/13 Premier League season has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs for Arsenal. A string of disappointing results in the league and in cup competitions brought forth a chorus of "club in crisis!" shouts from the media -- and even from some supporters. But now, nearly halfway through the season, we find our Club sitting fifth in the Premier League table and through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

So what can we make of all of this? To help figure it out, we once again turned to our panel of supporters in the USA and Canada to find out their views on what has happened so far and what lies ahead in the second half of the season.

So far our panel has touched on which of the remaining competitions the Club should prioritize. But the question that remains is whether or not Arsenal can do enough for the fans to call the season a success.

Question: What must Arsenal accomplish for you to consider 2012/13 to be a successful season? And has your view of that changed since August?


 With the Club's abrupt exit from the League Cup, I think many have written off Arsenal's chances of a trophy this season. The result against Bradford was a difficult one to swallow. Losing on penalties is never easy to take and losing to a club that plays week in and week out three tiers below a team like ours -- which has been competing in the Europe's most prestigious club competition for 15 years in a row -- it was even harder to take.

Yes, other big sides have also bowed out of the League Cup, the two Manchester sides, our neighbours and current holders Liverpool, but their results were not as disappointing as the manner in which we lost. I had felt that we fielded a very strong starting XI that day, one that should have easily been able to take out the League Two side, but the opponents were more focused and had their hearts set on beating a world-class Club. Hats off to them. I do hope Bradford go on to do well in the competition and perhaps even win the cup. I admire their spirit and they have proven they have the fight in them to do so.

But it is important that the team moves on quickly from this game. There are a slew of fixtures coming up during the festive season and it is important that Arsenal set a momentum - a winning one. We are currently three points from third place in the league and are still in the FA Cup and Champions League. As I said back in August, it is important for the club financially -- and traditionally -- to finish in the top four but I also feel that winning a cup would do wonders for the morale within the club and among its fans. Chelsea showed last year that it possible to win a major trophy despite not performing as well in the league. Liverpool has done the same.

However, I would say that I hope the Club always prioritizes finishing in the top four above everything else. It is important that the Club is able to achieve that every season as although cups are a great achievement, I feel they will only temporarily satisfy fans. I can't see many being happy with just winning a cup and then fading into obscurity the following season (ie. Portsmouth, Birmingham, Liverpool). Being able to compete in the Champions League is a draw to many players and I personally would hate to ruin our record in the competition's modern history.

There are several things that need to happen before I can consider this season a success. The first is that the players show absolute commitment while they are on the pitch from now to the end of the season, regardless of who the opposition is. A top four finish in the league is also critical for this season to be considered a success. A decent run in the FA Cup or Champions League would be an added bonus. I'm sure everyone is eagerly waiting to see who we will face in Europe next year (please no Barcelona!). I may actually have to fly out and attend a final if we ever make it that far.


I suppose to answer the question, one has to define what one means by "successful." If you said at the start of the campaign that you would expect a sustained title chase and a deep run in at least two of Arsenal's cup competitions (I'm just trying to think back to August at this point), then I suppose that's where the bar remains.

And by that standard, it's difficult to be too disappointed. Yes, the title appears out of sight, and the League Cup saw Arsenal crash and burn at Valley Parade, but a Top 4 finish is still somewhat on the cards (due possibly more to the failures of our competitors than to Arsenal's own successes), the team is into the knockout stages of the Champions League, and the FA Cup has yet to involve Premiership clubs. So by that standard, things are, maybe not perfect, but chugging along nicely.

However, while I appreciate Zara's optimistic outlook, a cheery disposition in the face of adversity has never quite been my own milieu. Being successful denotes achievement, and that is not a word to be associated realistically with this Arsenal team. The club has struggled to find any form of consistency in any competition this season, and retaining a Champions League place looks less and less like the bare minimum and more like where Arsenal are shooting for. I realize this is a common gripe, and I don't mean to sound defeatist. This is a proud club with a proud tradition, and Arsenal are capable of better. This may not be the greatest squad Arsène Wenger has ever assembled, but surely this group is capable of defeating the likes of Bradford, Swansea, Aston Villa, etc. At the moment, it would be unreasonable to talk about a real run in Europe, and the fragility on display in the League Cup at Reading and then fatefully at Bradford still threatens to be exposed in the FA Cup.

At this moment in time, and I must pre-emptively apologize for not truly answering the question, it is less a matter of determining a successful season than it is about having a successful week, then another, then another. We have entered Goonerholic (TM) territory: we must take this season one day at a time and judge success on a match-to-match basis.



Joel McNamara
Joel McNamara
Arsenal Review USA
@ArsenalReviewUS
 "Success" is a word that seems to become more and more flexible for Arsenal with each passing year. Last season I think it's safe to say the collective definition for success was landing any kind of silverware possible, whereas in our current predicament this season, salvaging Champions League qualification seems to be the most widely-accepted version.
For me, this season, I'll say first and foremost that yes, finishing at least 4th should be the club's standard for success, but more importantly I'd like to see this club's management and team go a step further and break some of the habits that seem to have contributed to their decline in form over the last few years.
We've heard plenty about how "competitive" this team is, but over the course of the rest of the season I would like to see this extended beyond just an aphorism and to 1) the performance and communication of the players: visibly holding each other accountable during games and consistently delivering the kind of effort that shows they themselves are being held truly accountable by their coaching staff; and 2) the game-to-game approach of the manager: do the changes made in the lineup reflect that he is specifically preparing the team to face a particular opponent, and do the in-game tactics reflect a team that has been set out with a specific gameplan to break down that opponent.
I understand we are not privy to the in-depth work the team and coaching staff are doing behind the scenes -- and I've no doubt they're doing plenty of it -- but at a certain point as a fan you do begin to wonder to what extent does your perception of how the team performs on matchday reflect the reality of what is taking place on the training pitch.The overriding perception to most fans is that each week our team is being set out with little to no variation in game plan against teams that quite clearly change their tactics in order to foil us.
In short, Arsenal don't hold the advantage they once did in the areas of fitness and recruiting superior talent, so in addition to Champions League qualification -- and the bonus of an FA Cup trophy -- I think the biggest achievement they could make this season is to once again institute a more strict accountability between players and coaches as well as implement a more pragmatic approach in the way they set up against teams each game. I honestly don't believe Arsenal will be able to achieve true, consistent success (winning trophies) until they take these steps.

 I'd love to see this team win the FA Cup. That would be a successful season and something to build on for next year.
If you look at the last 22 years of FA Cup winners several names dominate: Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Outside of those four names, since 1991, there have been just three other teams who have won the FA Cup: Everton, Pompey, and Man City. This is a historically prestigious competition which is always taken seriously by big clubs and for teams that fancy themselves title challengers. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Chelsea and Man City have dominated in the last few years as they are using the cup to inculcate that winning mentality needed to push on for the League title,
Finishing fourth is a success in as much as it's the minimum that Arsenal have targeted for the season. For a number of reasons, the club wants to avoid relegation from the Champions League places.
And yes, my expectations for the season have changed quite a bit from August. I felt that the arrival of Cazorla, Podolski, and Giroud might push Arsenal deeper into a challenge for the League title but alas, Arsenal have been too inconsistent to make much hay of that. So, I am hoping for a good old fashioned cup run.

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Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Kevin Mooney 19 Dec 2012