Written by Harry Dodds (@HDodds_BU)
On Thursday night, Arsenal crashed out of the UEFA Europa League semi-final to former manager Unai Emery’s Villarreal, ending the club’s ambitions of qualifying for Europe this season.
The performance on the night was spineless, passive and static to say the very least.
This is nothing new to the long-suffering Arsenal fans.
So with no European football looming for the first time in 26 years, where do the Gunners go from here?
Is there any way back to stardom for the once invincible club?
Arteta, Edu, and Vinai
First of all, the man who will be taking most of the blame for Thursday night’s performance is the manager Mikel Arteta, and rightfully so because the Spaniard is far from blameless.
He has made questionable decisions culminating in him trying out a false 9 formation for the first time in the first-leg of a crucial semi-final, and taking off Aubameyang, a proven goalscorer, in the second-leg at a time in the game where a goal was desperately needed.
He may be off form but he is still Arsenal’s best finisher.
Why Arteta decided that crunch time in Arsenal’s season is the best time to experiment is beyond me.
Arteta came into the club and won people over with his ideas for the future, but to say it hasn’t gone to plan would be an understatement.
Ultimately, a disappointing first season was overshadowed by winning the FA Cup, which saved his job.
He is not ready to take on this mammoth of a job, and I can’t see Arsenal getting back into the UEFA Champions League under his guidance.
The club’s recruitment has been appalling in the past few years, and Edu as well as Arteta have to take responsibility for that.
We can criticise the club’s lack of investment but the fact of the matter is that the money that has been invested, has been wasted.
Last summer, the club brought in Willian on almost £200k a week, and he has only just scored his first goal. Overall, it has been an abysmal signing.
The club also failed to bring in a backup left-back for Kieran Tierney, who has been sidelined with injury for a number of weeks.
Cedric and Granit Xhaka have each been filling in for the Scotsman, and have looked out of their depth, and offered very little compared to Tierney.
But even with these poor decisions, Arsenal still have a good enough squad to be in the Europa league at the very least, and a good enough team to get past the Villarreal side they let walk all over them.
Arsenal’s chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has burned a lot of bridges with Arsenal fans with his involvement in trying to form the European Super League.
Fans all over the world have seen the Hierarchy at Arsenal for what they really are; money grabbers who are out for financial gain rather than the best interest of their club and their fans.
The whole club from top to bottom is poisoned, toxic, and unrecognisable from what Arsenal Football club should be and what it should stand for.
What is there to say about the Kroenkes that hasn’t been said 100 times over?
They are businessmen with a portfolio of sports clubs.
The formation of the European Super League only confirmed what everyone already knew about Arsenal’s American owners, and sparked a protest outside the Emirates Stadium before the Gunners’ home loss to Everton.
They haven’t been bothered about the clubs’ ambitions as long as money is still coming in, but the more they neglect the club and the fans, the more their business will lose value.
The fans hate the ownership, and want change.
And the fact remains that the Kroenke’s lack of activity or investment is sending the club spiralling down the league and the glory days are getting further and further away.
We need change. We need to strip the club of everyone who is poisoning our beloved Arsenal.
What Next for Arsenal? How do the club get back on the right path?
If there is anything to fill Arsenal fans with promise, it’s the interest in buying out the Kroenkes from Spotify owner and founder Daniel Ek.
Ek is a self-proclaimed Gooner and has been watching the club since he was a child.
The Swede is preparing a bid for the club and wants to take over with the support of club legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira.
If there’s something Arsenal fans need to see, it is board representation from people who love the club, who hurt when we lose and want to see success return to North London, rather than treat it as a small cog in a huge business portfolio.
The harsh reality is that it seems unlikely the Kroenkes will sell, but regardless of what happens with the ownership, I don’t think Arteta is going to be the manager to lead us to where we want to go.
We need an experienced head to bring in new ideas, guide the players back to a place of respectability in the league and hopefully, the club will return to the Champions League one day.
One thing that Arsene Wenger was credited with in his later years at Arsenal was his consistent ability to get average Arsenal teams into the top four.
But those days are behind us, and we need to start laying new foundations to get the club back on the right track.
The owners need to sell up, the manager needs to be replaced, and the player recruitment needs to improve.
We may continue to spiral out of control until the Kroenkes get out of our club and take their money elsewhere. They are not wanted.
We want an identity, we want a group of consistent players, we want an owner who cares about us, and we want success. Because we are Arsenal football club and we belong at the top.
We want our Arsenal back.