In the wake of such a crushing defeat as Tuesday night's Champions League exit to Manchester United there was little for Arsenal's players to do but look forward and hope. Except, that is, for Nicklas Bendtner who appeared to opt for drowning his sorrows and was photographed leaving London's Boujis nightclub at four in the morning with his trousers around his knees.
Following their publication the Dane apologised. "No matter how disappointed I was, it does not excuse my behaviour later in the evening," he said. "I may be young but my actions were a poor error of judgment and something I deeply regret."
More senior, and sober, players preferred the psychological crutch of insisting: "We will come back stronger." There were, however, two caveats. Cesc Fabregas, Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor, the spine of the team, all recognised the squad needed strengthening, and could not afford to lose key players.
"I'm very confident we can push on next season," said Fabregas. "We've gone 21 games without being beaten [in the Premier League] and that shows we have improved a lot." Touré added: "Nobody was expecting much from us this season but we showed great spirit and are really proud of what we have done." Their sentiments were echoed by Adebayor: "We reached the [Champions League] quarter-final last season and the semis this. I hope that next season we can become winners." But it is four years since Arsenal won anything and Touré admitted: "We don't know how to win a trophy right now. Winning the first will help us to win some more."
To do so, however, reinforcements are required, admitted Fabregas. "Manchester United have many, many players who can make a difference," he said, adding: "Chelsea, too. We don't have that same deep squad but we have to cope with it because our job is to play football and the rest is for the boss [Arsène Wenger]."
Adebayor was more forthright. "We need some players," he said. "We lost [Alexander] Hleb to Barcelona, [Mathieu] Flamini to Milan, and it was quite difficult to play. I think we have taken a step backwards – not only me but the team."
Touré also noted, "We [also] need to keep the players [we have]." Will they? The trio have themselves been linked to moves with, in particular, Milan coveting Adebayor, Manchester City chasing Touré, who was on the transfer list mid-season, and Barcelona perpetually associated with Fabregas.
Touré insisted: "I think I am part of the club and have to stay to help us win things again." For what it is worth, and he has been known to contradict himself, Adebayor also pledged himself to the cause, in a fashion.
"Before signing for Arsenal [in January 2006], I can remember people telling me I have the chance to win things," he said. "Now I am empty-handed but I don't have any reason for leaving until I have won trophies and got what I came here for.
"Arsenal put me where I am today. They made me one of the biggest strikers in the world. I have to pay them back. How am I going to pay them back? Helping them win trophies. That's what I am here for and I have to fight for that. Next season, 100 per cent, I am an Arsenal footballer."
With Fabregas having recently said he, too, is staying, there presumably will be no major departures. "I don't know," he said. "We thought last year we would all stay together but we weren't at the end."Reuse content