WTTGT Writer: Vivek Arulnathan
In over the seven years I’ve been an Arsenal fan, there has never been such a grim situation surrounding Wenger and his boys. I thought there would never be a sadder moment than Thierry Henry’s departure to Barcelona, but I was clearly wrong. Arsenal have played their poorest football in over 15 years this season and there is a general sense of fear creeping into the minds of Arsenal fans about the current state of affairs at the club.
While the most common phrase to describe Arsenal has been the ‘six year since a trophy…’ I feel that fans have started to realise that losing our place among the Champions League elite is a more pressing concern than the perceived ‘trophy drought’. And, with Wenger pretty much writing off Arsenal’s chances in the league, where can Arsenal fans realistically look for success this season? Should we concentrate on the domestic cups rather than finishing as high as possible in the league? Will a League Cup win and 5th place finish place in the league be enough to label the season a successful one?
Well, that depends on how realistic and ambitious you are. Given our current situation, I personally feel that it would be wonderful if we could achieve that. With us sitting 15th in the league at the moment, a 5th place finish at the end of the season would be a great achievement. And, a cup win will certainly be a huge confidence boost for our young squad and will bring a winning mentality that only comes with silverware. The ‘six year….’ tag will be gone and we all know that it is something Arsenal’s fans want to get off their backs.
But, we’ve got to realise that concentrating on domestic cup success will only come at a costly prize. We’ll most probably fail to qualify for the Champions League unless we are completely focused on the league and that would be disastrous. Even though we are highly unlikely to qualify anyway, we’ve got to at least give it our best shot. Very few top players will play for a club that cannot offer Champions League football and we all know that Arsenal certainly need a few top players coming in to get back to their old glory. So, how are we going to attract players if we finish fifth? And, there is also a good chance of our top players leaving Arsenal if we fail to qualify. Can we really afford to lose the few top class players left at the club?
There is the financial side to it as well. Gazidis might be confident that Arsenal will survive even without CL football, but missing the elite European tournament means the loss of significant marketing benefits for the brand Arsenal apart from the £30m+ revenue it brings. Living in India, I can tell you that Liverpool has lost so many of its followers over here these past two years and that is largely due to lack of CL football. In Arsenal’s self sustained financial model, there is no place for such a huge loss of marketing and monetary benefits.
So, I personally would like Arsenal to keep concentrating on finishing as high as possible in the league and qualifying for the Champions League. We would make our rebuilding process a lot easier in that way.
If it starts to look impossible, Arsenal should bloody well finish ahead of the Spurs at least and also try to secure a domestic cup. We’ll probably have to start from scratch and cope without CL nights. But I’ll still call it a successful season, nevertheless, especially if we consider the current state of affairs.
If this season is to be labeled a successful one, Arsenal will have to qualify for the Champions League or at least end their six year trophy drought.
You’ve got to be an eternal optimist if you want to be a happy Gooner!
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