We’ve been down a roller coaster ride, mostly going down and I personally think it just passed below the level required of champions. I’m not going to have a match review or a Star Man Column up this time because the game was just too depressing and on top of that I had a very flimsy stream to catch it on which ensured I missed all the good parts. Instead I want to examine what the loss of a title challenge may mean for us in the competitions we compete in next season.
On an unrelated note, Manchester City secured the services of Pep Guardiola I am hoping that Arsene takes a long hard look at Arsenal FC and decides that his work isn’t quite done yet. I hope he decides to extend his current contract. Why? That’s a huge topic for another article entirely so you might as well look forward to that next week from me.
Champions League: Short of finding the greatest cup form of any team ever seen, we are no closer to winning the Champions League than Messi is to transforming into Joel Campbell overnight. The Champions League means more to us financially than anything else, but it also gives us the opportunity to dream. Every other season we seem to go to a big team and defeat them when they are at their best, showing everyone what is possible if we click but then that performance fades into oblivion as we crash out at the round of 16. I suspect even Arsene views it more as dream maker rather than momentum builder, because he has repeatedly stressed that the Champions League is a place for footballing elite and every fan should know that we are not among those teams yet. Look to the skies and pray for a good show in the odd game.
Premier League: Guardiola to City complicates the league heavily. Guardiola at City, Van Gaal at United and Klopp at Liverpool are all managers capable of attracting a high pedigree player and are at clubs which do not follow Arsenal’s policy of self-sustenance. City will splash the cash, United are splashing the cash even more nowadays and Liverpool might just buy smart as Klopp has been known to do. Just like Wenger in his initial days and years in the Premier League these are foes we do not know much about except that they are successful and they have access to much more resources than we do.
Klopp has his German network of talent, Guardiola has tactics AND money while Van Gaal doesn’t seem to have much at the moment but is a very strong believer in his tactics. They seem to be shooting more goals than us at the moment so who are we to comment on the man really? Chelsea will have a new manager and very likely also a couple of new players while Arsene’s haunt for ‘cohesion’ will most likely leave us in a jumble with the same players as this year and one world class addition- if any at all. Funnily enough there are rumours circulating that Wenger is looking more kindly at extending his contract and thus, I think he truly believes in our title challenge this season. He is still speaking of the title, saying we have a good run in at the end of the season to line up the title in our sights.
Next season it is highly unlikely that Arsenal will be able to mount a realistic title challenge next season with such a great smattering of teams who can compete and therefore I am not one of those eternal optimists who say “Next season it will be ours!”. No, next season it will most definitely not be ours, but we must take a note of that and make expectations realistic. Impossible to win the league next season, should look for a top four finish to secure Champions League football.
FA Cup: If Arsenal complete their historic defence of the FA Cup for a third season running then we will truly be a cut above the rest in this regard. We’ve gone a number of matches unbeaten in it and the round system means we have the possibility of facing opposition that would not realistically test us. This would translate to a devaluation in the appreciation of the cup as a title, because Arsenal fans being the way they are would start complaining that we are having too many of the same trophies and that we need to stop treating the FA Cup as a big trophy! Also, a fourth FA Cup title would absolutely seal this team’s place in history and would be a nice time for Arsenal fans worldwide. I say we should go for it at full tilt.
Carling Cup: Nobody cares about this and if Arsene stays on it will still be the competition used to introduce youngsters into the set up rather than an actual accomplishment, even though people would count it as silverware won. In the unlikely situation that we are chasing all three trophies listed above, I would say play the U-21’s for all I care, just so that nobody is injured! Conversely it may be possible that this is a target for the manager- nope. Just kidding.
It all looks very bleak I admit and if we suffer an early exit from the FA Cup we will most probably be left with a meaningless season to play. I have taken a realistic look and even after it all looks dark I will still support the Arsenal. This year, then the next and the next and the next and the next….. You get the idea. I will keep supporting the team I love and so should you.
Come On You Gunners. We’ve got a title to win still.