In a recent interview, Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger revealed something very interesting - "My regret is that we already had great teams in place that could compete at the top. You could feel that the potential was there, but now it feels like we're starting again & it's frustrating."
The Frenchman has a right to feel frustrated and it's no doubt that one of the "great teams" he was talking about was the side of the 2010/2011 season - one which comprised of the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere.
23 February, 2011 - probably the best time to be an Arsenal fan since the 2003/2004 season where Arsenal went an entire season unbeaten. Arsenal were - without exaggerating - the most in-form club team in the world at the time as they actually looked like a team who could win the quadruple.
One point behind table toppers, Manchester United who had a game in hand and who on paper, had an inferior squad than Arsenal's; a day to go before the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City in which Arsenal could end a six year trophy drought; having the upper hand against the mighty Barcelona, leading 2-1 on aggregate after their Champions League round of 16 first leg; and in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Many trophies were up for grabs. A win against Alex McLeish's Birmingham side in the Carling Cup seemed destined while Manchester United looked like they wouldn't be able to hold on to their lead at the top if form was to be taken into account. An upset at the Nou Camp also looked possible given how Arsenal were running riot, having only lost once in their last seventeen competitive games leading up to the Carling Cup final.
It sadly, was not to be. Arsenal suffered injuries to key players such as captain, Fabregas and Theo Walcott at the worst possible time just before the Carling Cup final and though Arsenal were still expected to win, they somehow didn't, as Birmingham City grabbed a last minute winner to win 2-1 as Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny had a mix-up. Was this the beginning of the end?
Arsenal were in a similar position back in the 2007/2008 season looking to finally end their trophy drought until Eduardo's leg break derailed their season - was it going to happen again? Would Arsenal be able to fight back and show their mental strength this time? Unfortunately, it was not going to be the case.
Arsenal only won three of their remaining fourteen games of the season since the Carling Cup final debacle, crashing out to Barcelona and Manchester United in the Champions League and FA Cup respectively whilst dropping too many points in the league as from a title challenging position, Arsenal finished the season in fourth place.
A promising season finished in the cruellest way possible. Such a talented team consisting of England's brightest young talent, Wilshere, exciting midfielder, Nasri, the always in-form, Fabregas, and the red hot Robin van Persie - all ended up trophyless. Out of all those names, only Wilshere remains and one can see why Wenger is frustrated.
Who knows what butterfly effect would have occurred had Koscielny and Szczesny not had that last minute moment to forget? Wenger will definitely have nightmares thinking about that as the 2010/2011 season was Arsenal's best chance of ending their trophy drought. Now, Wenger must start over as he's sadly gotten used to doing.
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