EPL

Arsenal’s EPL Hopes Could Be Bolstered By England’s World Cup Exit

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - JULY 11: (L-R) Alex Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jeff Reine-Adelaide of Arsenal before a training session at London Colney on July 11, 2018 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s EPL Hopes Could Be Bolstered By England’s World Cup Exit

The year was 1991. The perennial underachievers of international football, England, saw their dreams dashed by one of their most celebrated sporting rivals, Germany (then West Germany), with a certain Paul Gascoigne being the fall guy for continuing the Three Lions’s streak of consistent mediocrity. Meanwhile, over in the annals of north London Town, a certain football club by the name of Arsenal, were getting their preparations ready in the old Football League First Division (now EFL Championship).

In those days, George Graham was the manager of the Gunners, Highbury was still in existence, and Wimbledon was still a relative force (before the split and AFC Wimbledon eventually becoming the main successor club. The Wombles currently play in EFL League One). The 1990-91 Arsenal team were formidable, finishing with a record of 24 wins, 13 drawn games and one single defeat, to go with 74 goals scores, 18 goals allowed, a goal difference of +56 and 85 points, nine ahead of Liverpool.

Alan Smith was Arsenal’s top scorer back in 1991, with 22 league goals. Paul Merson, a reputed football pundit nowadays, had 13 goals, and a Swede by the name of Anders Limpar had 11. And their main goalkeeper was one of England’s greatest, still to this day: David Seaman. It should also be noted that at this time, Arsene Wenger had yet to start his career with the Gunners, as he was busy leading AS Monaco to a runner-up finish in Ligue 1 to Olympique de Marseille. They had won their league title three years prior.

Fast forward to 2018. The Three Lions had once again stumbled in the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup, a listless performance against Croatia’s team of destiny and a 2-1 defeat in extra time telling the story. Meanwhile, as usual, the Arsenal Football Club of North London Town is busy planning for the 2018-19 Premier League season. This time, it’s a Spaniard by the name of Unai Emery, the Champions League achiever flushed out of Paris Saint-Germain, running the show at the Emirates Stadium.

If a pattern is to be believed, then the pieces are in play for Emery to surprise some people. A lot of people, mind. So much people, indeed, that Arsenal winning the Premier League this season would be the biggest story in British sports rivaling England’s predicatable but not surprising downfall in the World Cup.

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Notable returning faces for Arsenal include forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (signed until 2021), forward Alexandre Lacazette (signed until 2022), and midfielder Granit Xhaka (signed until 2023). The big name that could be making a massive splash this season in the Premier League for the gunners is Lucas Torreira, a Uruguayan midfielder that is only 22 years of age.

Torreira comes from a mid-strength club in Serie A, UC Sampdoria, and has 71 appearances to his credit. Torreira also spent time at Pescara, with 34 appearances for that club. He also has eight caps for the Charruas and has been rewarded for a strong run in the FIFA World Cup. One player for Arsenal who needs to lift and lift big is Aaron Ramsey, a Welsh midfielder. Ramsey is the longest-serving player on Arsenal’s list at the moment with 329 apparance and 58 goals.

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With the arrival of Torreira and young rising star Matteo Guendouzi, Emery is building Arsenal in his image, in his style, and while there will be no UEFA Champions League football this year for the Gunners, this season could be a season where not only does Emery’s project at Arsenal yield huge surprises, but possibly a Premier League title campaign that hearkens back to the summer of 1990. It’s a tall task for history to repeat itself, but it’s not impossible. Don’t believe us? Just ask Leicester City.

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@joryansalazar

Jo-Ryan Salazar is a writer for The Stoppage Time, a soccer blog powered by Azteca Soccer. A supporter of the Los Angeles Galaxy since 1996 and a committed supporter since 2002, Jo-Ryan also follows Chelsea FC, Melbourne Victory, FC Tokyo and Paris Saint-Germain. Apart from soccer, Jo-Ryan is an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit in Long Beach, California and also does photography, photo-editing and fictional writing.

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