This time last year, when Arsenal met for their Annual General Meeting, the mood was restless. They had been beaten 2-0 by Schalke at home in the Champions League the previous evening, having lost two of their last three Premier League games too, to Chelsea and Norwich City. Still reeling from the departure of Robin van Persie, they had started the season poorly, with 12 points from their first eight games leaving them back in ninth place in the table.
The dissatisfaction that day, with the direction of the club and the work of Stan Kroenke and Ivan Gazidis – if not Arsene Wenger – was obvious.
This year, though, it felt a bit different. There was not much enthusiasm for the regime but there did seem to be less resistance than in the past. Maybe dissent had just been effectively screened out in advance – the pre-submitted questions did work in the club’s favour.
But this is a different place from last year. Arsenal have a world-class player again, in Mesut Ozil, who was understandably referred to by both Sir Chips Keswick and Arsene Wenger. They are playing well, as well as they have played since they moved to the Emirates. Wenger could speak convincingly of how the club has come through a “very long restricted period financially” but now come out the other side. In buying Ozil, the narrative around the club has switched, and almost a decade of drift has been replaced for what feels like forward momentum.
It might dissipate again, of course, and the old anxiety might come back. The defeat to Aston Villa was just two months ago – Wenger admitted it “created a huge revolution” – and those forces have not been defeated forever. But, for today, some of the old protests were on hold.