We’ve become our worst and most unreasonable critics! by RC
Today Arsenal Football Club stand 3rd in the English PL. The worlds first, finest and constantly most competitive professional football league. So far it’s been a bizarre season and only one club, the leagues 2000-1 shot Leicester City, have shown the desire and balance to give it a real go. Everyone else has bombed.
Who will win is still in question although mathematically right now many teams have a shot. Realistically however, it is between 3 or 4 teams. If you look at LC’s remaining games and their points won so far, then it’s do or die time for any challenger.
For AFC that means we need to go through the next nine games winning them all or in the worse case just dropping 3 points. This season our best run over 9 games has seen 7 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw. We need to replicate or better that. Will we do it now when it matters most? Unsurprisingly, I doubt optimism is high. Personally I will take it game by game, before I write us off.
I think somewhere between 75-79 points will win the league. Our potential points maximum is 79. However, you don’t see bookies paying out yet (no wonder given the odds!!) so it’s still in the balance. There is no doubt that Leicester are in the driving seat and that’s a position that has been earned through graft, organisation, belief and a few exceptional performances.
What does this mean? It means we’ve missed our one opportunity, right? It was there for the taking, right? It means we’ll have to wait years for another chance, right? Wrong.
It shows something else.
It shows undeniably that ‘spending big’ on stellar players does not guarantee anything, as LC continue to highlight perfectly. The scalps taken by many ‘smaller clubs’ further exemplifies this point. Chelsea’s early season shows the same. Having stellar players is a guarantee of nothing more than an excessively big wage bill.
It shows that having ‘celebrity winners’ managing a club will guarantee success? Nope. Chelsea were the League champions and they had no reason whatsoever to implode, but they did. Man Utd spent money, struggled to arrive at a workable formation and remain completely schizophrenic. Liverpool are the same, some progress, but is it sustainable, who knows. Man City spent big again but look equally inconsistent. Will they all improve next year as some would claim? There is simply no guarantee of that, as none have found the answers to their problems, their squads or managers. In addition, we have the Euros this summer and available time to negotiate transfers, get players in for pre-season and gel will all be that much harder.
It shows that any manager over 50 is a waste of space? Nope on the contrary, the top of the PL shows that those in their 50’s and more so in there 60’s rule.
It shows that there are new innovative tactics and formations that certain ‘up to date’ managers (not our ‘dinosaur’) use which are guaranteed to deliver success? Nope. The formations used by LVG used to change by the week (not in reaction to the opposition) but his dabbling and preference to play three at the back. Others in the league have tried it too. Didn’t last long did it? Klopp has tried to change Liverpool’s pressing and formation with mixed success. Players have at times this season been played out of their favoured positions by most of the leading teams in the league. Football managers make mistakes and try to find the next great thing. It’s ultimately a blend that allows you to perform at your best or nullify the opposition and there is no right or wrong.
So whilst some cry ‘we’ve blown our only chance’, in actual fact I consider that the events of this season show that nothing in this league is guaranteed and that increasingly every team on their day can get a result. With increased TV funding the league will become increasingly competitive, that’s life, that’s progress, that’s the overly funded world of our PL. There may be 6-7 teams chasing the top 4 next season.
The simple truth is that we never had any reason to believe this season should have been ‘our year’. Why was it? Had Chelsea gone into melt down pre-season? No. Had City? No. Were Liverpool still expected to challenge? Yes. Was this to be the year that Man Utd bounced back? Supposedly. Every top team has had issues. Several are out of the title race and several are out of the cup, whilst AFC remain in the hunt for both.
If you want to point the finger, that’s possible. We’ve made mistakes and we can all make reference to them. But take a look around, we are in good company. We talk as if this is the worst season ever. People are losing a sense of perspective.
The reality is we’ve not taken full advantage of problems elsewhere. That’s fair. We’ve not done a Leicester and taken the league by the scruff of the neck. That’s fair. Some of our players have not risen to the challenge. That’s also fair. But then what has happened at all of our normal rivals, is worse. They have spent to no avail. They have changed managers to no avail. They have changed formations and tactics resulting mostly in a decision to revert to plan A, to no avail.
Outside of the PL, AFC are close to a record run in the FA Cup and closing in on what would set Wenger and AFC apart from all contenders as the outright most successful club in the entire history of the competition.
We remain in the CL. Europe’s elite football competition. We may be about to exit (we’ll find out soon enough) but if that happens it will be to the world’s best football club – Barcelona FC. Let’s be honest, although we’ve had some absolutely horrendous games, in recent years we have not had the easiest of draws and have normally gone out to either one of Bayern or Barca. Probably a result that would have been the same if you substituted AFC for CFC, United or City.
So whilst the season may well end up with many very frustrated Gooners and possibly ecstatic LC fans (please not the Spuds!) the league was never ours to lose. We have become our sternest and sometimes most unreasonable critics. Don’t compare AFC to either your dreams or dwell on the past. Neither is a reasonable or relevant measurement. Clearly, some of you simply do not like Wenger or his approach. That’s fair enough and I think every AFC fan has some issue on that level. Whatever your feelings, keep it in perspective, because this site at times is full of BS comments, ‘facts’ and bias that bear absolutely no relation to reality.
We are in a new world, perhaps the dawn of a new PL, and whatever the result of the 15/16 PL, AFC are still likely to have had a better season than most of our ‘rivals’ when the fat lady finally sings. Before you say it….zzzzz…no that doesn’t mean I’m a 4th place junkie or happy with not winning the league. What Gooner doesn’t want to win the PL, this is about perspective.
In the meantime, here’s to the start of a 9 game, league winning run and FA cup history.