May 232011

Following Arsenal these last few weeks has felt a little like being a nightclub DJ at 3am when everyone left an hour ago. It has been an effort to muster up the interest, largely because it has been so plainly obvious that the players felt precisely the same way. That some of them were playing for their futures didn’t seem to hit home, neither did the fact that at no point was our season officially over. Every match until the very last one mattered for some tangible reason, even if it was eventually the failed avoidance of a Champions League qualifier.

How did we get here? Just two months ago we had the league title in our hands, and were riding high off the back of a stunning win over Barcelona. We had a healthier squad than usual, were in a cup final, and Van Persie was scoring for fun. The latter is the only thing that has remained, and for that the Dutchman should get immense credit. Sadly, his astonishing achievements have been overshadowed by the malaise that hangs over the heads of his teammates.

It is extraordinary to recall that the league title was truly a two horse race, and we were one of the horses. It is worth noting that United’s total of 80 points is five fewer than they managed last season, when they didn’t even lift the trophy. Even with their late winners, their ability to pull a result out of the fire, they were there to be beaten by a solid team. But none was to be found.

Even after we started to fall away, when Chelsea were hitting form and second place looked in danger, I said that it wouldn’t take a brilliant run of form to hang on to a top two slot. Chelsea had a tough run in and would drop points – they should be relatively straightforward to catch again. And I was right – they lost two out of their last three games and finished on 71 points, a massive fifteen less than last season. And they were indeed caught on the final day, but not by us. By Manchester City.

And just to be clear – City haven’t had a massively improved season, contrary to what you will be reading. They only managed four more points than last season, a season in which they didn’t reach the Champions League. Their 71 points would not have been enough for a top four finish two years ago.

There have been great moments this season, flashes of brilliance and even good spells on form early on. But we have chucked it away in spectacular fashion. Put it this way – after 27 games, we were on 56 points. Sixteen points from the last eleven games would have been enough for second place, but we managed just twelve. That is relegation form, stretched out for nearly a third of the season. It is a quite remarkable collapse.

All we can hope for is that this is the trough from which we start to climb. The fallibility of the squad is now an unquestionable fact – not even Wenger can claim few changes are required. And although he is still talking about the players in a positive light, I’m going to ignore that entirely and look at his actions. He either wants to keep, or get the best price for, each individual, so he isn’t going to be publicly admitting some of them aren’t actually up to much.

In that regard, the wheels are already moving. Denilson and Bendtner have already stated their intentions to leave, Rosicky is unlikely to get another contract, and Clichy’s contract situation gets more untenable by the day. I’m less concerned about Nasri as all the noises I’m hearing are that his contract is due to be signed imminently, but others will surely be on their way out. Almunia and Eboue are dead certs.

Not even Wenger can lose six or seven members of his first team squad without bringing in replacements. And he will have funds – Clichy and Bendtner appear to be highly sought after and will command decent fees. This summer could and should be the busiest we’ve seen in years.

With Chelsea, City, United, Liverpool and maybe even Spurs likely to improve next season, it will need to be.

  13 Responses to “Fourth in a two horse race – the collapse only Arsenal could achieve”

  1. Why Arsene Wenger should leave Arsenal

    For committing the most unpardonable of all crimes: casting pearls before swine. He took the yobs of North London out of the troughs of Highbury, to the Emirates, and made them dine, at home amongst the royalty of Barcelona and Milan. With a nose for success, Wenger a ‘cordon bleu’, delivered banquets so fast over 12 years, the swine preened themselves to new glorious heights after every feast, augmented their newfound blue blood, made it hereditary and passed it to their bloodline so that their kith and kin can come to the party too. 30000 new gooner gonners. ‘Feed me, I am here at the Immuritz and I’m flush. What time are we scoring the first goal?’ To do that hereditary thing, ‘we must win all the cups and every game, success must be guaranteed’. Yobs expect this to be true, know this to be true. But the cuisine is ‘unenglish’ has to be French, or it aint cuisine (boiled cabbage and baked beans anyone?). These fourainers ‘They always seem to know which way a round ball goes’; anything else, if its’ square, would be the elbow, the boot: squeaky bum time. But swine are not swine for nothing, they don’t let facts get in the way (Wenger inherited his success from Rioch), science is for Asian kids (We never called Tony Adams a donkey), civility? ‘WTF I want my club back, Coyle can guarantee us more success than ‘le Arse’. Reasoning? is what we expect the toffees to do for us, you didn’t think we would let them steal our taxes for nothing. Did ya? ‘What did you do with the £40million we gave you to spend, Wenger? Yes we know Chelsea spent £350million and Man City £400million, but we are sick and tired of your excuses. You can’t keep blaming the ref, how much influence can he bring on a game. Many of them do eat cheese sandwiches so they are professional anyway’. ‘Let’s get Pardue.’ ‘Where is George Graham BTW?’ ‘If we asked him very, very nicely I am sure Mourino would come to Arsenal, with Kroenke in and Dein on the way and a £60million war chest.’

    Mediocrity cannot recognise itself when it has been inbred over thousands of years (Scott Parker for Fabregas. Aye). British Steel? Facts are the iron ore ran out hundreds of years ago. How come ‘British Lions’ don’t have four legs? Are they lions? But don’t tell the yobs this. Reality might make them adjust their minds. And we gotta love them. Where would we go without our hype, what took 100 years in the making? A king once tried to gather all the yobs around a round table to find a better way. What did they do? They fucked him up, they screwed his wife and they wiped out all his booze. He had to throw his magic sword into a lake to prevent them from management.
    Wenger go! Consider what you could do at any also ran club, Man City, Tottenham, Lyon, any Milan. Spread the love and receive it in return.
    If you stay its Jamie Oliver fish and chips at home and chicken tikka takeaway, even in Madrid and Milan. Pass the sword to the yob Wenger, then we can all sit back and die laughing.

    • Liking the sarcasm!

      I’m also very much of the mind that Wenger has to be given the chance to change things this summer (at least, I think that’s your opinion, extrapolating from what I think is your sarcasm….). He has looked fairly broken of late, and I think that indicates how much he realises change is needed.

      We aren’t as close as he thought we were, and despite the disappointments, with heavy transfer activity likely, he is still the man I trust to get the right players in.

  2. in arsene we trust

  3. When’s the next podcast you lazy fuck?
    Every Wednesday? – I trust you as much as Wenger!

    • Ha – somewhat tricky when you work two hours from your house, making the working day a 13 hour round trip, and then have two young kids when you get home.

  4. Wenger has only himself to blame. Let’s say about four years ago had he bought a reliable gk,Arsenal would not have have found themselves in this situation today. Now they have to go for the play offs.
    But If he carries on with business as usual,he should be axed with immediate effect.Let him go and manage another team where he will find the board not so tolerant of repeated failures.

  5. If I didn’t know better, I’d think we got relegated…

    Yes, we had a lousy end of the season but we still finished above other traditionally big clubs in EPL. I’m not sure why we collapsed but we’ve beaten bot Barca and ManU, we’re top of the ‘Top 4 League’, etc. It cannot be all that bad.

    The one thing we need is a Winner, someone who will not accept defeat. He should preferable be a goal scorer of quality or a towering CB. The problem is of course that the very best usually already play in good team. We cannot compete with the money the Saudi oil sheiks and Russian oligarch are throwing about. What we can compete with is a stability of CL football (Spurs, L’pool…).
    When shipping out and getting replacements, AW will have to look carefully at the 25 man rule. We’ve had a young squad for years but this coming season and next, many of the promising young talent are ‘coming of age’.

    • There were certainly highlights that will be easily forgotten now, and they prove that technically, this side is up to it. Mentally they are lacking.

      Good point on the 25 man rule – we’re way off having trouble with it at the moment but the sort of signings people are after might bring us closer.

  6. Let’s face it – Arsenal has become mediocre as a team.

  7. Yes this will be busiest summer.

    Bcs lot of good plyers will sold. Cesc is one. And some more….

    And very AW will be very busy to get below average players.
    All fans, u can expect, next season we will be out of CL and next summer we can expect some investment…………

    AW is happy with CL birth. Then Y he has to spend fucking money. He will not…………
    Where u r living u stupid fans…………

  8. As an Arsenal supporter for nearly 80 years, all these trials and tribulations, peaks and troughs and highs and lows are nothing new. Since the late 30’s we have never retained a
    1st Division Championship. We have consistently lost games we were guaranteed to win.
    And against all odds, we have triumphed on many occasions.
    The present need to strengthen the squad, improve our ability to deal with (and benefit from) setpieces and break down massed defences will all be sorted out during the Summer, I’m sure. Lessons have been learnt at long last.
    The near future looks bright and I can’t wait until the pre-season training games to see the new look Arsenal.

    • Peaks and troughs – you’re absolutely right. For all the ‘six seasons without a trophy’, they are more successful years than many in our history.

      I have to say I’m looking forward to this summer.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.