Even though Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said that the FA Cup final success against Hull City on Saturday can be a catalyst to a successful new era, ending nine barren years without a trophy, consensus is that the Gunners still need to considerably boost their squad to be competitive next season.
Wenger, who won the FA Cup for the fifth time in his Arsenal career, said: “This win was more important than all the others. Twice we had won the double, so we had already won something and were not under the pressure we were under here.
“It is a feeling of relief and happiness as we were under severe pressure to win and we didn’t start well, of course.”
The just-concluded season looked like it was going to fizzle out in disappointment again for Arsenal after a promising start. Historically, they are always impressive for the first two-thirds of a campaign but injury, fatigue, suspensions and loss of form results in the team trailing off at the business end of each campaign.
It almost happened again this time, having been top of the Premier League for most of the first half of the season before succumbing to a multitude of problems associated with a squad with little depth.
An FA Cup final victory against huge underdogs Hull was their only hope of salvation – and Wenger’s last chance of holding onto his job after 18 years at the helm.
Thankfully for the north Londoners, their 3-2 extra-time success – after being two goals down inside eight minutes – ended the years of frustration and halted the snipes of opposing managers and taunts of other supporters.
Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea boss, labeled Wenger “a specialist in failure” a few months ago. Yet it was Arsenal who won a trophy and Mourinho had a rare barren year despite spending tens of millions on strengthening his squad when returning to Stamford Bridge last summer.
Chris Wight is a life-long Arsenal fan. The Caymanian who co-owns the Rubis gas station on Walkers Road with twin brother David has had to endure jibes over Arsenal under-achieving throughout. Their relief is immense.
“We were sure we were going to beat Hull but when we went two down so early in the game, it revived the memory of losing to Birmingham a few years ago in the League Cup final in 2011 when we were overwhelming favorites,” Chris Wight said.
“This is a case for double celebration because not only have we won it, we’ve also got people off our backs who were taunting us,” he added.
The Wights also see this victory as a tribute to their Arsenal-loving father Derek, who died two years ago, and also their late mother Marguerite, who passed away last year and was also a big Gunners follower.
Wight expects this win to bolster the squad and maybe attract some big names in the summer. He feels Arsenal will be more competitive for all four trophies next season.
Former manager George Graham, who led Arsenal to the league title in 1989 and 1991, said the club needs “three quality players” to be competitive, including a midfield general in the mould of 1998 World Cup winner Patrick Vieira.
Wight is glad that Wenger is about to sign a new contract to stay at the Emirates, believing he is one of the best coaches in the Premier League. Arsenal often fail to sign star players, particularly strikers. Wight puts that down to their policy of not paying salaries as high as others.
“Wenger doesn’t buy success like managers of the other top clubs do, his best asset is his coaching and nurturing talent,” Wight said. “If he can get a real world-class striker, with the squad we have now, there’s no stopping us.”