Arsenal Debate – Are the Gunners still a Top Six Club?

Are Arsenal Still A Top 6 Club? By Dan Smith

On Soccer Saturday, host Jeff Stelling asked Paul Merson; Are Arsenal still a ‘top six team’.

Our former midfielder replied we are no longer a ‘top 6 team’ but remain a ‘top six club’. Mr Stelling very proactively queried (scratching his head): ‘Well what makes them a top six club?’

If you look at things in black and white, the Gunners are on course for their 5th consecutive season outside of the top 4 and 2nd year in a row outside of even the top six.

My counter to that that in a decade which will be viewed as a poor one in our history, we have won 4 FA Cups in 7 years. We also got to a League Cup and Europa League Final meaning if you’re a Gooner you have seen 6 Cup Finals in 7 years.

So, among all the drama, if you support the Gunners you do see us compete for trophies.

When I debate that with a Spurs fans when they hint at a shift in power, I argue that can’t be a coincidence? Maybe we could fluke the one cup but to win 4 cups to their 0? In their most successful period in their Premier League history?

That can’t be a coincidence can it?

It’s because it’s built in our DNA.

That’s why I think it’s premature to suggest we are no longer a top 6 club, and until Mr Stelling can name 6 clubs who routinely get to Finals, then his argument is flawed.

The Manchester clubs do, as well as Chelsea and Liverpool, but I struggle to think of a 5th or 6th club who have won as much as us even in our darkest hour.

It would be a fantastic feat if a West Ham, Leicester or Everton qualified for the Champions League, but a bit disrespectful to everything Arsene Wenger built to say a team finishing in the top 6 once makes them bigger than us.

As I wrote before, I won’t allow a newer generation of Gooner to be wrongly educated. We are not just a big club purely based on a big stadium and large fan base. Newcastle and Spurs can do that.
Nor am I comfortable basing a big club on just trophies. An Everton and Leeds fan can point to periods where they won titles, heck Aston Villa and Notts Forest can point to European Cups.

Arsenal are a big club we just don’t think or act like a big club. Look where we were when Stan Kroenke first joined our board and look where we have ended up.

Think of the brand of football we were famous throughout the world for playing. Don’t let our owners lack of ambition fool you or ever let you accept mediocrity. Don’t be misled into thinking we are not a massive club. We act like that on the pitch and in the transfer market, but that can happen when a billionaire not a fan of the sport owns you as part of a portfolio.

Go behind the scenes and you will learn how big a club we are in the department’s that matter to them.

Go on a stadium tour and listen to the details put into every last detail of the structure. Attend a match in the corporate box and see how you are treated, read up how well we look after any kids who join our academy, etc.

Judging us as a business we are one of the best run in Europe. When Arsenal want to, they act like a big club (normally when making money).

If Mikel Arteta was sacked tomorrow, Arsenal would have all the resources to make the vacancy appealing to the best managers in the world.

Luis Enrique once said he was interested in replacing Mr Wenger but was put off by our lack of ambition in the transfer market. Instead we hired Emery because he was the cheap option then Arteta who was even cheaper.

Our transfer policy prioritises value over what’s best for the squad. This January for instance our response to our worst start to a season was to make money not improve the team.

So Arsenal don’t act like a big club but that doesn’t mean we are not one.
Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Be Kind In The Comments



  1. We are not a big 6 club, we are a currently a mid-table club that does well in the FA Cup. I don’t think routinely getting into finals means as much as routinely winning a variety of those finals mentioned.

    We get bullied in the transfer window all the time, whether we are selling or buying. Net spend shows this clearly.

    We are bullied by wage demands of players we want and often give in.

    We are bullied by current players that demand higher wages to sign an extension and often give in.

    Big clubs win their league and/or elite European competitions at least once a decade IMO.

  2. Absolutely and should still be considered a top 4 club .
    Look at our players and tell me this club should be mid league .
    Something isn’t quite clicking ATM but it needs to start before we are call a mid table club .

      1. Hi Dan, I asked this on the thread so hoping it goes through to you too. Quite interested in the views.

        If I may ask if we are a top 4 club which of these do you not consider a top 4 club considering there are only 3 other spots if we in top 4?

        Man City
        Man United

        1. it all depends on your definition of top 4 club.
          i remember liverpool and chelsea were stugling to make top 4 sometimes ago and despite that they were reffered to as top 4 club especially liverpool, due to their pedigree, club history and performances locally and internationally, the fans base and all that.
          if we use same logic,Leicester, Spur and CIty dont belong in that category of top 4 club, maybe city deserve it because of their recent achievements locally since last decades.
          then you ask, how many european competition did spur and leicester qualify for , how many ucl semi-finals and finals have the reached. A club didnt just build reputation in 1 or 2 seasons, its build over the year.
          can we say Juve is a bigger club than Milan because of milan downfall in recent years? thats my personal opinion though

        2. PJ
          Can I ask who you put in our place as a top.6 club and why ?
          Obviously the two Manchester clubs , Chelse a and Liverpool but who else ?

          1. @Dan It depends on how you define the top 6(fan base/finance/stadium/history/current competitions/trophies etc).

            I personally don’t think the “top 6” should be a thing. It’s like lowering the required % of an exam so your pass rate is higher for the sake of inclusion.

            I think top 4 should be the goal before aiming to win the league. I currently would not say we are a top 4 club.

    1. Agreed. And the longer we stay at mid table the harder it will be to go up no matter which players are brought in. Liverpool is a good example and to some extent Man utd.

    1. those silly redcards……so painful. Xhaka, Pepe and Luiz redcards were the height of them, and we were playing well before those stupid incidence, the 3 matches could have ended in win for us or at least we could have gotten 5points which id still enough to put us in top 6

      And the shitty early goals. our game against Aston villa and Everton could have ended in a draw

    2. Sign of a weak team when you resort to if and buts. Same can go for so many other teams. If all the IFs and buts would have worked of all the EPL teams we probably would have been sitting on same table position.

  3. for me, we are a top 4 club. thats why every time we finish out of top 4, it appears like its not a successful campaign. the expectation of top 4 is as a result of our standards which has been for decades.
    every club pass through trying time, i guess this is ours. but we dont have a top 4 team, at least we lack consistent character to impose our game yet.

    OT: the team need to avoid conceding early goals . losing concentration early in matches and conceding early goals cost us against teams that prefer to score and defend and we must find solution asap

    1. If I may ask if we are a top 4 club which of these do you not consider a top 4 club considering there are only 3 other spots if we in top 4?

      Man City
      Man United

  4. What makes the English Premier League the most exciting and followed league in the world is how competitive the “Smaller” teams are, and the quality that exists throughout the league table. Therefore it’s natural that when “Top 6” teams teams are having bad seasons / rebuilding spells that some of the other teams will nick top-6 spots, or even win the odd title like Leicester did, but despite that Arsenal are still very much one of the “Top 6” in terms in stature, and I’m sure that will begin to reflect in our league positions when the rebuilding project starts coming to fruition a bit further down the line.

    1. In stature we are one of the big three of England alongside Liverpool and Man utd (cheaters).

      Our bad spell shows the club didn’t really prepare post Wenger’s stability when letting him go.

      1. H
        We stop preparing whilst AW was in charge and lost years sitting on our laurels thinking to much about past glory days.
        We have let the years slip by and the mismanagement that has gone on past and post GLORY years has caught up with us
        We all saw what was going on as fans but unfortunately the management turned a blind eye and just carried on counting the money
        Moving swiftly on to the present. They are ruing the incompetency of handing out vast contracts. Buying players for big money who can’t live with the price tag and most of all not qualifying for CL and for many a season now and our boring electrifying nights of the Tuesday and Wednesday evening have been superseded by the boring Thursday night.
        It will take a few seasons to get this right again but I am an optimist and beleive we are on the right track but we need to be patient
        Onwards and upwards

        1. Any great club can be brought down by financial and player asset mismanagement at Board and senior executive level as has occurred at Arsenal.
          During the history of the FA there have been golden periods for many clubs, including Arsenal. No club is guaranteed success, however Arsenal is the longest surviving club in the top division.

      2. HH, no we are not one of the bug three any more in stature. For you what defines stature fan base, player preference, trophies, earning, sponsor deals ? Because in all the fields we are behind City, Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea for last 2-3 years for sure.

        1. You are correct we are behind them in the last 2 or 3 years but 3 years is too short for change of stature. And I think they are way behind us in fan base because it also take many years to build a large base like ours.

  5. We are a top 6 club but to stay in that position you need to spend big and when you do make sure they are quality

  6. All.

    Let’s take it a step higher.

    I have long said the formation of a “European Super League” is a matter of time (Arsene Wenger confirming this recently), and I suspect plans are firmly underway for this.

    Given the subject matter of this thread i.e. our current domestic status will we ;

    1) Simply be invited into the inaugural league by name (as my comment above)


    2) Potentially miss out on the entrance criteria (logically the previous seasons domestic league position, whenever that season may be).

    I’m not saying I agree with the formation of a ESL, nor look forward to it, but the argument will be those in such a league will be Europe’s elite.

    Now rewind to say 2003 / 2004, we would have been one of the FIRST names in the hat.

    I know I’ll ship criticised for straying from the point, but perhaps perspective and food for thought on our current standing in the wider sense.

    1. Interesting point. In our current state if invited it won’t be super then. The only English teams currently worthy of being invited are Man city and Liverpool. And if you look around Europe there are not that many teams worthy of super league.

      Bayern Munich, Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Man city, Liverpool, Juventus and that’s it.

  7. We are referred to as one of the top 6 clubs in England based on stature and not league position. Leicester are not a top 6 club and neither are West Ham.

    1. @Declan. Some people don’t understand the meaning of position on the table and position in status. Table position can change week in week out. Last season at one point Norwich was 6th on the table, but ended up being relegated at the end of the season. According to forbich arsenal is the 9th valuable club in the world. Arsenal also takes 9th in world of clubs most followed. Three English clubs top Arsenal on the world stage currently.

  8. We are a top 6 team.

    It is a business law. Anything that goes up must surely come down.
    Life is all about ups and downs. Which is called the law of Diminishing return in economics.

    We are as good as our owner and the management, which is the head of our beloved club.

    Kroenke is not a football/soccer lover. So he needs good managers that know the game well around him for matters of the club. David Dein was the perfect man for that job, but he was kicked out.

    If we can get David Dein back or a man with his knowledge then we will be good to go.

    I believe soon we will be on the rise again.

    The youngsters we have, added with some new players will lead us to the top again.

  9. Exactly as tyou say soand fully in context DAN!

    OF COURSE WE ARE A TOP SIX CLUB but not, temporarily this season, a top six team. Our long term history and world wide status makes us the second or third biggest club in England, behind only MAN UTD and in th opinion of SOME SCOUSERS BUT NOT ME, LIVERPOOL.

    1. In my country it is generally agreed that Liverpool is the biggest followed by Man utd and us third. That is my personal view too.

  10. Let no one fool themselves. Arsenal is one of the top four teams in England, the others being Liverpool, Man U and either Chelsea or Man City. What is my basis for this? Statistics which don’t lie. Arsenal was in top four for 20 years. I f you compute the average against other clubs we shall always be top four. So the likes of Dan who move by the hype of the time should not confuse anyone. We shall soon regain our rightful place as Man U and Liverpool have done. Anyone who writes us off does so to his disadvantage.

  11. As Adajim says – it depends of your definition of a top four club.

    My own definition is that its purely CL qualification this and last season, so important but fleeting, and factual rather than subjective. There are too many top clubs to make Big 4 possible to accurately judge in any but the simplest way.

    I see it to be not as important as the “Big Six”, which is by no means religiously linked to league position eg Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. It encompasses tradition, history, squads, money, overseas prestige and fanbase, other trophies etc. Therefore it is much more slow to change.
    For me the big four is almost meaningless as clubs float in and out regularly – its relevant purely based on whether you qualified for the CL places. last/this season. If Uefa revamps and allows 5 qualifiers people will change it to Big 5.

    No we are not Big 4, but we are Big 6, which long term is more important.

    1. If we are big 6 then this season could be our last as a big 6 team. I don’t see us close the gap with the top 6 without Europa League money next season.

      1. You are confusing team with club. The article talked aboiut a top six CLUB. By any sane rationale we are a top six club, even though not team, right now.
        So many youngsters constantly fail to understnd that the club is far more than just the present team. You are failing to understand that too.

  12. At the moment we are not a top 6 club when it comes to on field results and status. Perhpas, financially we might still be there but in the long run (which we are in now), missing the top 6 year over year will lead to a reduction of your finacials as well.

    Big 6 clubs can afford to miss out on CL football for one season, perhpas 2 but miss out on it more often than that and even worse, this year we might also miss out on European football altoghether and that’s not a problem you come back from in todays football, unless you have an owner who buys you back into the top 4 or 6.

    We have a team of too many average, mid-table type of players. To get back to the top 4 or even top 6 we need to buy top drawer players and we have not managed to do so IMO since Auba, who this year has not produced inline with a top drawer player.

    We miss Europa League for next season and we done in terms of attracting big name players. We might not even be able to attract the likes of Aouar.

  13. Even if we finish eight this season we are still a top six club!
    I can explain it to you but I cannot understand it for you…….

  14. David Rusa has answered the question perfectly.While stats can be very misleading when it comes to evaluating players, in terms of results, both playing and financial, they do not lie.

  15. Perhaps this is a question of English language. The question is not “Is Arsenal among the top six on the table?” The question is ” Is Arsenal a top six club?” and to that question the answer is an unequivocal yes because it presumes that this is based on data collected over a period of time. To determine that kind of question you have to rely on the mean and average theory and not on one or two seasons as some people on here are doing. This is a question which demands objectivity and not emotions. Like I stated earlier, this cannot be decided on last year’s or this year’s results. Thus our emotional pundits need to tame their raw instincts and use a scientific approach which is elaborate and more reliable. Only those who dwell in hype can be taken in by cheap gimmicks based on one or two season’s results.

    1. David, With great respect to those to whom English is not their first language, there are a great number of Gooners on here who constantly misunderstnd proper English and who misunderstand words and meanings and thus come up with the incorrect view.

      If you are answering a question that was not actually asked but a subtly different one, then confusion is to be expected.
      This is no ones fault but it is one among several explanations for unfortunate misunderstandings.

  16. I don’t think we are in the top 4 big clubs in EPL logically. Man United, Liverpool , Tottenham and Chelsea have crossed us in the list of top 10 clubs list …hell we are not even in top 10 last time I saw it. We don’t have champions League and it’s been years since we won EPL. Our brand has been fading for years on international stage. We no longer the kind of fan following n Brand pull we once had. It does not mean we are finished though we can still be back in the elites of Europe but for that we need to perform on the pitch n win either EPL or do well in champions League. That is why champions League was so important for a club to attract big name players n keep the money flowing. The people who said we don’t want champions League just for the sake for participating in it and moaned about Wenger qualifying us almost every year but not winning it, can now see the impact and importance of it.

  17. Every discussion carries this wave of opinions to choose exactly where each and everyone of us want to pick our facts and datas to back what we belive is the truth. I believe that to know if a time is a Big Six Team or not, we all need to decide what are the qualifications parameters to judge it.
    Is it the following
    1) Nubers of trophy been won
    2) Level of fan base
    3) Financial strength
    4) Qualities of Stadium
    5) Longetivity of the team in the top half the league
    6) The ability of the team to attract both High quality of Managers and Players.

    When we look through this steps it helps to reach a close conclusion of who & who can be deemed a Top Six Club. Going by these I Wana belive that ARSENAL FC can and should be considered and respected as A Top Six Teams.
    We have our own share of greatness in all those enlighten steps above. Because we are not doing so well now thus not take away all the club has achieved over the past years,
    Liverpool had there years of struggles without trophy and missed couple of CL but the are never called out of top six always be referred as a top 4 team even though they missed CL spots, Mancity where nobody sometimes ago but today cause of there resent success they are now seem as a top team if they failed to maintain their performance in 5yrs time are we going to say they are once or never has been a top team?

    So many teams pass through pupple patches some make it through others don’t but when you look at their achievements, we dnt pull them down but accept things are not working for them but their years service still make them a top team.

    Sorry for the long post just felt we can view it from another angle

  18. Instead of dwelling on an article that’s clearly just another Wenger-based “I told you so” troll job we should be wondering if Kroenke’s actually pulling a “Major League” ruse so that we wouldn’t even qualify for a “Super League”, should it actually materialize, as there’s no way I can see him wanting to make the substantial investments which would be required to remain relevant in such a competitive environment year in and year out

      1. Mark my words, his business model, based on maximizing market value with the minimum amount of financial outlay, is totally counter-intuitive in that sort of Billionaires pissing contest…only saving grace is this might prompt him to sell high while the getting is good

        1. The thing is, though. So far there is quite a good correlation between being a Top 4 club and the value from a business point of view. So even if Kroenke is only motivated by money, it should work to our advantage, or?
          Why else would he have let the club invest significantly in transfers and salaries, even after we dropped out of Champions League?

    1. Yeah I made sky sports ask the question ?
      By way I don’t need to hide behind any article mate
      I’ll say it , we gone backwards since Mr Wenger left
      That’s kind of a fact at this point ?

      1. unfortunately, like most people who fall victim to the inevitable trappings of hero worship, you’re unable to provide a rational and/or unbiased argument since your smug sense of righteousness always gets in the way of the truth…maybe once you come to terms with the fact that we are who we are as a DIRECT result of the ineptitude and arrogance shown by our once great manager, you will be finally be able to rid yourself of the burden of trying to constantly prove something that at best serves no real purpose moving forward, while at worst seeks to further divide an already fractured fanbase through the propagation of fake news and/or distorted “facts” …the difference between you and I is that while you have wrongly ascribed a sense of infallibility onto the man, I can clearly separate his great deeds from his undeniable flaws…it’s called perspective

  19. Ofcourse! For me in England we are one of the big three, based on all our successes over the years. While since 2004 we have not beeb able to win EPL or the CL, we have still been very successful compared to other clubs in the present top 6 ranks of the Table. Based on the 20 year period from 2000 to 2020 I would say only ManU, Chelsea, Liverpool and City are slightly more succesful than us. Still 2 PL titles, one CL final, one EL final and about 5-6 FA Cups is a performance worthy of a Top 4 club.

  20. We are a top 6, top 5 side, yes. With Liverpool becoming fantastic in the last two years and manure returning to the top 4, we can hardly be much better than 5th, 6th. And it’s a battle with scum and Leicester for those two spots.

    If Arteta ever manages to return us to top 4, that will be literally incredible. We are worse off than the real top 4 both financially and squad-wise so the only way we can best them is through tactics and coaching.

  21. Before the traditional top 4 Clubs are Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. ManCity rose to the Challenge and because of their cosistent success, joined the league of top Clubs.. Totenham also joined the groove paving way to the traditional top six Clubs. The criteria has to do basically with financial strength, Titles won, fan base, commercial value, and ability to accept A grade managers and players. It’s not only Arsenal that has slumped generally, some of the others have slumped before. So Arsenal is still a top six Club based on record but gradually fading out not to be a top six team presently.

  22. Evaluating our position and status based on the Premier League era, we would probably be in the top 3 most successful clubs along with Man U and Chelsea (I am including FA Cup successes and Champion’s League qualification). At the present time let’s just say, we are resting. Not for long I hope.

  23. Andrew Elder has summarized it very well. If I digress a little I will say that many of us on this platform need to tone down on extremist views and become more realistic. Any rational person can see that there is considerable improvement in our team. This is evidenced by the following facts: We are conceding less goals than previously; we have started winning against big teams; we are able to come from behind and win games; most of our losses in the last one month could be blamed on the red cards which we received, five in all, rather than poor play. Thus an unbiased observer should not be too harsh with our team. If you blame indiscipline for our losses I would grudgingly take it but maybe it was more a case of inexperience on the part of our manager and sometimes biased officiating! I believe all this is behind us now.

  24. now we are talking about top six and not top four anymore. interesting times indeed. give Arteta three years and let him come up with a clear strategy. let him stop the nonsense of going for loaness. they do not add value unless the club is not focusing on long term

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