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Arsenal: The drought is set to continue

16 April 2013, 07:27
With Arsenal now sitting in 3rd  place in the Premier League with 6 games to play, I find it rather odd that some ‘experts’ would call this “yet another season of predictable frustration”. 

I prefer to see it as yet another season of “predictable position”.

I stopped believing Wenger’s optimistic views on Arsenal’s title hopes a couple of years ago. They are contradicted by his satisfaction at Arsenal merely reclaiming their top-four ‘trophy’. Wenger is an optimist of note but I doubt that he genuinely believes that this Arsenal side has the quality to be a title-contender.

Technically speaking, Arsenal are still the 3rd best team in England (if we base it on the final league standings of the 2011/12 season).  However, they finished a massive 19 points behind the winners and the runners-up, Manchester City and Manchester United, respectively. Quite the gap.

I will say, and have been saying, that – as things stand in the English Premier League – you have the two Manchester giants, then you have the rest. Manchester United seemingly have the EPL title wrapped up while Manchester City (who lie in second place) are favourites to take second biggest domestic trophy, the FA Cup on the 11th of May 2013.  This almost seems to reaffirm the notion that the two teams are currently in a class of their own.

The difference between the Manchester giants and the rest might not be of La Liga proportions but it exists, nonetheless. Logically, this means that for every other team in the league, as things stand, 3rd place is the glass ceiling that exists for the likes of Arsenal, the work-in-progress Chelsea and Liverpool, and the ever-improving Tottenham Hotspur.

To come 3rd is be the “best of the rest”. My realistic, and slightly optimistic expectations at the beginning of the season were a 3rd place finish and no trophies (as usual).  As things stand, Arsenal are in third place, with no chance of winning a trophy. As things stand, realistic expectation is matching reality. And if Arsenal stay in that position until the end of the season, I have no reason to feel “predictably frustrated” as others might expect. 

True Gooners who are able to add in an adequate dose of objectivity and realism to their expectations will have expected nothing more. A trophy would have been a great bonus, but not a genuine expectation after losing the two key players from the previous season. 

As to who is to blame for the sale of key players and thrifty use of money between Arsene Wenger and the board, I am not entirely sure. I do, however, have massive respect for Wenger in how he manages to get Arsenal into the Champions League season after season with less-than-spectacular looking team sheet.

Yes, the glory days have not returned. And yes, a “big club” should be challenging for trophies year in, year out. But excuse me, does Liverpool not count as a “big club”?  

With the passing of time, comes change. Does anybody remember Nottingham Forest? They happen to have won back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.  Everton, that who are battling to stay in touch to qualify for the Champions League, were previously a force in English Football. They last won a English League title in 1987.  In 2001, current champs, Manchester City, were relegated from the Premier League. 12 years on, powered by Sheik Mansour’s money, they have claimed their first EPL trophy in 44 years. With the passing of time, comes change. Heck, just look at Cardiff City in the red-coloured kit!  Let’s say it all together now kids… With the passing of time, comes change.

The point is that big teams don’t remain big teams forever in some instances. And in this case, Arsenal fanatics have to accept that while Arsenal remain a “big club”, as things stand, expecting anything more than 3rd place and at best one trophy is a bit unrealistic. Some may laugh at these “low expectations” but wait until Liverpool return to Champions League football to see what a few years of UEFA Champions League-less seasons affect expectation of supporters; their fans will be thrilled to return.

While experts may struggle to understand the loyalty of the #WengerIn brigade,  the view that a new manager, be it Jose “The Special One” Mourinho, or Borussia Dortmund coach, Jürgen Klopp, would merely come in and turn Arsenal into a championship contender without adequate support from the board is a bit naïve.

Arsenal may not be bringing in trophies but he is doing alright in reaching that glass ceiling.  Of course, Wenger is not blameless; he’s responsible for giving high wages (relative to the value of  a player) to individuals such as Bendtner, Squillaci, Almunia and Andres Santos to name a few. But try finding a faultless manager in the league, Sir Alex included…

Until the financial dealings at Ashburton Grove change (or Financial Fair Play rules fully kick in), Arsenal will most likely remain under the glass ceiling. Until that point, Gunners fans should let Le Professeur” continue without so much criticism because they are becoming becoming “predictably frustrating”.

Thomas Monyepao

Follow me on twitter @Tom_18Yards

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