Why Arsenal fans can look on the bright side: This season can still be a success despite Champions League elimination

A trip to Wembley in the FA Cup beckons and there is potential for progress in the league

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The Independent Football

There was a sense of deja vu last night as Arsenal were eliminated from the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage on away goals.

The defeat to Monaco across both legs was the fifth time in as many seasons that the Gunners fell at the first knock-out hurdle, whilst two seasons ago they went out on away goals to Bayern Munich with the same scoreline as this term.

With Arsenal fans feeling down following the European exit, we look at the positives to take from the current campaign and what else there is to play for this season...

This season can still be more successful than the last...

They might not have got any further in Europe than last season but the Gunners can improve on their league finish. Last season they finished fourth, forcing them to go through the Champions League qualification play-offs. But they currently sit third in the table, just one point behind Manchester City, and on current form few would bet against them retaining or improving on their position.

 

The Premier League title can't be ruled out...

Arsenal's hopes of winning the title were ruled out months ago, but a run of form that's seen them win eight of their last nine Premier League games has seen them close the gap on league leaders Chelsea to seven points. It's still a wide margin but Blues boss Jose Mourinho reckons the Gunners are still in with a shout. “Of course [Arsenal are in the race] as they are seven points behind, even if they have one less match to play than Chelsea," he said. "I keep thinking our opposition is better than theirs [over the run-in], but I think both teams are in the race.”

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Jose Mourinho says Arsenal cannot be ruled out

 

The FA Cup...

Arsenal cannot improve on their showing in the FA Cup having lifted the trophy last season - but they can retain it. A semi-final against Championship side Reading is the last hurdle before a second successive final. Should they make it, they would play either Liverpool or Blackburn.

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Arsenal face Hull in a repeat of last season's final

 

They've shown they can win away against the big teams...

Arsenal's record on the road against the big teams has been awful in recent years, but this season Arsene Wenger's side have proved to themselves and everyone else that they can take three points away from the toughest matches of the season. Manchester United were well beaten at Old Trafford in the FA Cup whilst reigning champions Manchester City were beaten in the league.

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Danny Welbeck celebrates after making it 2-1 against Manchester United

 

Arsenal look to be on an upward curve...

Should Arsenal retain the FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League, this season will have been a success. If they can finish higher up the league than last term they will show progress. And there are signs they can be better again next term. Perhaps the greatest promise is in the shape of Mesut Ozil, who since returning from his most recent injury has been showing why the club shelled out £42.5m. Next term he won't have a World Cup hangover to get over either. Alexis Sanchez hit the ground running following his move from Barcelona last summer and at 26-years-old he should be better again next term. Meanwhile Hector Bellerin has come from nowhere to solve the right-back problem, Francis Coquelin has provided a genuine option in the defensive midfield role and Theo Walcott won't miss the entire first half of the next campaign. There are positives all over the pitch.

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Mesut Ozil

 

Transfer funds...

Once the season is over, there could still be excitement at the Emirates in the form of new arrivals. The last couple of windows have brought major signings in the shape of Ozil and Sanchez and Arsenal are expected to invest again.

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