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A generation of Arsenal fans must deal with a season of mediocrity

For the first time in my lifetime, Arsenal has finished outside of the top four. For the first time in my lifetime, Arsenal has ended the season below Spurs. For the first time in my lifetime, I have had to endure Europa League taunts and Tottenham fans’ jeers. For a whole generation of Arsenal supporters, this is their first encounter with mediocrity.

    Fans of my age will only have seen Arsenal win the league twice, with both victories occurring at an age we were too young to remember. Failure to be part of Europe’s elite is a new, agonising feeling.

    For the more cynical Gooners, a top four place would have flattered the team, with the season not meriting such a level of success. But for me, nothing is worth the insult of Europa League football.

    This competition is a laborious process, as Manchester United discovered to their peril this season. Of course, I would like Arsenal to follow in Mourinho’s footsteps and take it seriously in order to ensure Champions League qualification, but that would inevitably come at the cost of a competitive league campaign.

    Such a number of fixtures calls for a well-rounded squad, something which Arsenal lacks, as demonstrated by the likelihood of Per Mertesacker starting in the FA Cup final.

    Without the promise of the Champions League to attract big names, Arsene Wenger will do well to prevent fifth place from becoming a regularity.

    But it may not be Wenger who takes the team forward from the end of the season. With a cup final on Saturday, he has the chance to salvage a remnant of success out of a dismal campaign. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has shown no indication of what the future holds for the club, and Wenger admitted that the atmosphere was ‘horrific’ due to the uncertainty over his future.

    Had Wenger finished in the top four, there would have been an argument that there are no grounds to sack him; he has achieved what he has always achieved and he has never been sacked before under the same circumstances.

    However, due to the failure to achieve Wenger’s only redeeming credential in the years since the 2004 league victory, there is now enough justification for Wenger to be let go. If Arsenal wins the FA Cup, it would be a pleasant send-off for the Frenchman; it is clearly the end of the road, but at least there is one more trophy to celebrate.

    Indeed, it may be a career saving move for Wenger to leave Arsenal when this season culminates. There is much speculation of rats abandoning the sinking ship, with Sanchez being linked to Bayern Munich, amongst other clubs. Having scored 24 goals in the Premier League this season, twice as many as the Gunners' second top-scorer, Olivier Giroud, losing Sanchez would be detrimental to the team. Not only is it his talent and goal-scoring ability that would be missed, it is his hunger and passion that inspires other players. The only player to come close to Sanchez’s desire is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who, despite his impressive moments this season, is not close to Alexis’ standard.

    As Arsenal fans come to terms with their new dystopian world, taunted by Spurs and looked down upon by Liverpool, the future does not look glamorous.

    Only with a serious overhaul can Arsenal salvage enough from this season’s wreckage to progress confidently into the next.

    Joshua Korber Hoffman is a 16-year-old football fanatic and Arsenal supporter. He writes a football blog called The Young Gun, in which his love for writing and the beautiful game intersect

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