Arsene Wenger is a man made of little else but steel – either that or he must never check social media to see the waves of criticism he receives, much of it from his own supporters.
With the UEFA Champions League out of the reckoning this season for the Gunners, Arsenal will instead embark on a Europa League campaign, along with a bid to defend their FA Cup title, a tournament we have managed to win three out of the last four years.
But if you’re having a bet with a mate or playing with some free bets at the bookies, keeping Arsenal on side could give you the last laugh come the end of the season.
For the next five weeks, the only disruption to a fairly handy run of top flight fixtures is an away visit to Stamford Bridge for a tasty London derby on September 17th. But around that fixture Arsenal have a real chance to put some points on the board after a pretty shaky start to the new season.
After a cracking 4-3 win over Leicester City, Arsenal’s confidence will have taken a knock with away losses to Stoke City and Liverpool in the two matches since. But there’s nothing like a home win to set a purple patch in motion and at this early stage, any other outcome wouldn’t be enough if Wenger’s men are serious about mounting a serious Premier League challenge.
With just the three points on the board at the time of writing, the bookmakers now rate Arsenal as 25/1 shots to win the Premier League, which is about right given their start and the competition in the top 10 over the past few years. But it would be folly to discount their chances based on the result of two early away games.
Arsenal’s trophies may well come from other sources, however. Arsene Wenger is a maestro at preparing his squad for FA Cup games in between league and European assignments, a point he proved in 2014, 2015 and indeed earlier this summer with that impressive win over Chelsea.
At 10/1 with a few bookmakers, Arsenal are a big price to retain their FA Cup crown. And at 8/1, they are second to only AC Milan in the betting for the Europa League and the Italian giants aside, Manchester United already proved this year that it is a winnable tournament against the other usual suspects competing in the consolation event to the Champions League.
Make no mistake though, a win in the FA Cup and Europa League for Arsenal would more than make up for any shortfalls they might find in the Premier League. Winning the Europa League is Arsene Wenger’s Joker card.
Of course he will have his team gunning hard for a Top 4 place, but lifting the Europa League gives automatic entry to the top tier tournament the following season, so expect Arsene to take it very seriously indeed in the months to come. Their opening game is against German side FC Koln on September 14th.