Arsene Wenger understands that we Arsenal fans are desperate to win the Premier League title again. He wants the same thing of course but like the fans he has had to be patient through the frustrating years of spending little and selling our best players while all the clubs around us, especially Chelsea and Man City, spent money like it was going out of fashion.
At least the new stadium is no longer holding back the manager in the transfer market, although Stan Kroenke is never going to splash any cash that we do not have, so the pressure and expectation on the Frenchman is only going to increase. A lot of people are suggesting that the Gunners need to finish next season as champions to save Wenger but as he pointed out in his interview yesterday, reported on the Arsenal website, winning the Premier League is not that easy.
In fact, as Wenger reminds us, finishing in the top four is not that easy and those who have derided him by dubbing the top four as the Wenger cup seem to have conveniently forgotten that a lot of our rivals in the BPL cannot even manage that, or can only manage it on occasion. He used the case of Liverpool to highlight this point and it is hard to disagree.
Wenger said, “I don’t feel that we are affected too much by the pressure. We went to Manchester United in the FA Cup, we had to qualify in the Champions League. If you look at the start of the season, we had too many injuries in the first part of the season. Since January we haven’t lost any points compared to all our opponents. We have made progress and we had our players back as well. You fight with top-level teams and it’s difficult.
“Liverpool were a point away from winning the league last year and they are not in the top four this year. To be in the top four is not easy. It always looks obvious but you have to fight.”
Do not forget or underestimate the fact that until the last couple of years, Arsenal have been heavily outspent by the likes of Liverpool and our north London rivals as well as the really big clubs. The Spuds actually spent £350 milion to our £214 million in the decade up until the summer of 2012, with Man United just ahead of them, Liverpool blowing £414 million, Man City on £572m and Chelsea with a massive £673 million.
Let’s look at Liverpool as the boss suggests. They are a big club but have not managed a single Premier League title and last won the First Division back in 1990. And since we were last champions in the Invincible season, Liverpool have finished above us a couple of times but have also finished 5th, 7th, 6th, 8th, 7th and 6th.
You get what you pay for they say, so I reckon we should be glad that Wenger seems to be able to make more of Arsenal’s money than his rivals. But will he be able to get enough to finish at the top of the Premier League next season?