Finishing top-four should not be the target for Arsenal

What I have seen a lot of recently is predictions about whether Arsenal will finish top-four, will they finish above Tottenham and so on but I am struggling to find anyone predicting Arsenal challenging for the title.

OK, on the face of it that would appear ridiculous when you consider the gap between Arsenal and the top two of Man City and Liverpool.

But people seem to have short memories, two seasons ago Liverpool finished fourth on 75 points, a whopping 25 points behind Man City, last season the Reds finished second on 97 points, just a single point behind City and were crowned European Champions.

How did they make such a leap and increase their points total by 22 points?

Well, in the main, they bought well and strengthened their weak areas.

That is exactly what Arsenal have done more or less, there may be one or two areas that remain weak but no one cannot say that that the club have not addressed areas of concern.

This Arsenal team is clearly stronger than what we had last season and there is no reason why we cannot see a significant increase in our points total.

Do I think we will win the title? No, I do not but do I believe we can win the title? Yes, I do.

Liverpool has proven that you can make that massive jump with the right signings and there is no reason why Arsenal cannot do the same.

So, finishing top-four should not be the target for Arsenal, winning the Premier League should be.


  1. Winning the Premier League should be the target for every team but you have to be realistic as to aims and probability. We aim for the title but probably won’t win it. Our realistic finish is top 4 in my opinion.

  2. If we had a pre season with Bellerin and Tierney and Holden and Mavrponas available I would be more optimistic . However I can see arsenal firing after January and it might be all too late then

    1. Did you see Mavropanos last year? Believe he needs to go out on loan and play games after all injuries… Right now he is far from our first team!

      Not convinced Luiz is the answer at the back and while Xhaka is trying – truth is he is not good enough to lead the team anywhere near the points needed for mounting a challenge…

      We have to hope Raul and Edu has a plan for next year!

  3. You are spot on. Actually like reading my mind and what I have said to few friends already. Your points summarised it all. To add to that, few years ago Leicester lifted the title against all odds and not with the class of weapons Arsenal currently has. Arsenal should go all out for the title now.

    1. @Vic
      LCpulled that off by forfeiting all the other cup matches and concentrating on the PL Cup. Smart move, when all the big 6 were fighting on at least 4 fronts, the they only had 1 match a week. Plus some brilliant man management and players with real grit, both of which we still lack, and in my opinion…

    2. @Vic,
      That same year too, Man City team were far inferior to this current City team.
      In fact, the bench of this present City team is better than that Leicester team of that year.

  4. I think top 4 is a reasonable target,city bought but even without it both teams were much better than the rest, last season was always a 2 horses race,both have great depth in numbers and quality very difficult to improve on and on top of that they’ve been together longer meaning more settled teams,I believe Chelsea to be weaker and in Lampard have s new and young manager, spurs have a very good team but from what I read there are some unhappy players in the dressing room (Augier, Rose,Eriksen,vertonghen and Toby what’s his name) basically spurs, arsenal, man utd to fight for the last 2 CL spots!

  5. Arsenal still lack that tough mentality to ride rough when it get tough.. Like losing away to wolves, palace, lecity

  6. Come 3rd in the PL + ECL = Happy Gunners.

    Its always good to aim for at least 1 big trophy each season as a “big team”. Its high time we won a European trophy in this era before Spurs gets one.

    1. I would be happy with a top 4 and no trophies,what we need now is CL football and everything that comes with it(money, playing the best teams making arsenal a more attractive club)

  7. I sort of agree Martin,I too believe that yes we can win the title,however too many people seem to settle for top 4 including myself rather than aiming to win it, i don’t want to be happy with top four I want us to be top and i think with everything clicking with this squad and the best eleven playing regularly I am going to say we will,this may seem a tad optimistic to some but i firmly believe if this lot click and get on an early winning run we will do it.

  8. I believe without injury and if the coach gets his selection and plan of play well…Last season,these 2 points affected arsenal

  9. Thing is, if we compare ourselves to Liverpool, we’re at best one season away from challenging for the title, where they were before they made their crucial and game-changing signing of Virgil Van Dijk.
    Like them before, we should be great going forward but will be losing points due to our defence.
    Now, next Summer, IF we break the bank again and, thanks to a top 4 finish and a return to CL football, are able to attract our oN Van Dijk-level CB THEN we should be able to challenge for the title again.
    It’d take a miracle to do so this coming season.

  10. i was thinking the same thing the other day, not too long ago Liverpool was almost considered mid table they made one or two good signings in the right place sold one or two players for a fortune and spent the money on world class players and BOOM we on the other hand sold our top players on the cheep and bought injury prone or average players that no one really wants BUT you never know with this new group of players if they settle quick and our defense get their act together you never know it could be the star of upwards and beyond, when i heard we was signing David Luiz i was dead against it but after analyzing and thinking about it he could be exactly what we needed to get our defense working as one he might not be as good as Harry Maguire or Liverpool’s Vin Dick but Luiz just might gel the defense then the rest of the team can be more confident and free going forward and not so worried about losing the ball in case of giving away counter attack which most of the time we consed easy goals

  11. Yes! I’ve always said that. Arsenal should aim to win the title every season and not just be aiming to get top-four place finish but win the title itself.

    God so kind, during every PL season’s campaign, there used to be a time during the campaigns that Arsenal will top the table. But within a spell of time, they will collapsed to not continue to win their matches to sustain their leading on the table. But start losing matches or playing to draw games start dropping point not long after they’ve mounted the table to start dropping down until it becomes no longer possible for them to realistically compete to win the title. So, this has been the malaise that has plagued Arsenal stopping them from winning the title after they last won it in 2003-2004 PL season’s campaign.

    I do sake my head sometimes when Unai Emery the Gunners gafer talks of Arsenal meeting their target of getting a top-four place finish. He has even in one of the media chats he had that Arsenal cannot compete with Man City to win the PL title. Did he hear himself making such a surrender confession before it even started this season? Emery has not shown that he has the ambition to see the Arsenal players under his watch win the PL title at all. It’s always top-four top-four top-four place finish he’s been talking about ever since he took control of the Gunners. This is disappointing, pathetic and unacceptable.

    As a matter of fact, if Arsenal beat Burnley in the PL at the Ems on Saturday to garner 6 points after playing 2 games, they’ll be in a position to challenge Liverpool to the collection of all the 3 points that’ll be at stake in the big game PL match encounter between the duo big club sides of Liverpool and Arsenal who will battle it out at Anfield. And if Arsenal play their cards very well in the match, they will beat Liverpool completely to the collection of the maximum points that’re in the match. And of course Arsenal beating Tottenham Hotspur in the PL at the Ems in the next match that followed will become a formality for Arsenal to do. Which they should do and MUST totally do.

    Therefore, Emery MUST set Arsenal up prolifically to win their next 3 League matches unfailingly if he ever has the ambition to see the Arsenal under his guidance win the PL title.

  12. All we need is consistency, right selection and injury free season to win the league.
    Leceister did it so why can’t we.

  13. We had teenagers in our starting lineup in the last match. It will take time for them to improve and will take time to integrate Pepe, Martinelli, Ceballos, Luiz and next season Saliba.

    We need to take it one match at a time and hopefully good things will happen with patience

  14. Defense is still not good enough to challenge. And we still have midfield issues. And our general play is not at the level of even Spurs yet. Still need at least a season for things to settle more. Hopefully we start going in the right direction this season though.

  15. You are absolute right Martin. That is why Emery should play his strongest team. Never give a point or more away by thinking ‘we can’t win the league anyway’ and send out a sub par team…never ever. Otherwise we may as well pack our bags and go home. Play your best, fittest team or what is the point? Hopefully on Saturday we will see, Auba, Laca and Pepa the ALPs, our mountain of a forward line, and not the diluted team we had to put out against the Toons.

  16. if we compare arsenal to liverpool then we have to compare them to klopp 2nd season: good attack with an average defence and hardworking midfield.

    emery 2nd season: we have the good attack, defence is average though with everyone fit our defence is better, our midfield lacks a 3rd hardworking mid with good attacking quality. also we have a good gk. if we get a top cb next season or saliba is top quality plus we upgrade on xhaka position then we will be in title race.

  17. What exactly does “CAN win the title” mean? In a purely technical sense , even Sheff Utd CAN win it. But doesn’t that show how meaningless the word “can” actually is?

    1. I am trying to make a serious pointb in my above post. Not just semantics but as a language lover , i really see not prope meaning when “CAN” is used in this context. Would lov eto hear if anyone can explaining it diffently whilst still being accurate in language. Surely theonly relevant word is”will”? The answer to that word is obviously not!

      1. Jon as requested and OF TOPIC the five questions:

        1. Did you hear and join in the singing of Ozil’s name at the Emirates and were you suprised at the amount of fans who joined in?

        2. How do you explain AW’s ability to finish in the top four eight years out of the ten that you call “the dross years”?

        3. Following your accusation about defamation of character and being libellous, would you consider the words you use to describe Ozil as in that catagory

        4. Ditto for the above, but in regards to some of the fans on here who you demean (example from Dan kit yesterday)?

        5. Phil’s question on cherry picking stats?

        1. Dear Ken1945, may I humbly suggest that you have grossly misunderstood the 10 dross years?

          Like we have the big 6 and the others right now, at the beginning of the 10 dross years there were top 4 and the others. So finishing 4th was not a great achievement at all. As the dross years rolled on the top 4 kept getting more and more hard to achieve eventually culminating in finishing out of top 4. Mr. Wenger could not arrest the slide. The once revolutionary manager could not even attempt anything new, simply kept the same predictable style year after year.

          So, the input to the dross years was a team that was 4th(or probably 3rd) best team in England and the end resulted in a team that was 5th(or 6th) best in the country.

          You keep saying that we didn’t value top 4 then but we crave for it now. You are right. That is because AW’s dross years brought us below top 4. Had he maintained it or improved on it then we would have expected Emery(or any other successor) to come and win the title for us, no less.

          This rant can never be complete without admitting that AW has been one of the best revolutionary managers that the world has seen. Just that he did not change with time.

          Sorry to gate crash yours and Jon’s conversation. I respect you both as fellow Arsenal fans.

          1. well said classygunner. however, i feel your wonderful comments have fallen on dear ears regarding the french clown and his pretty toy boys including ozil the marvellous.

          2. ClassyGunner, you are not gatecrashing at all…this is an open forum and debates are always welcome.

            In the spirit of your reply, can I first of all say this?

            The view is always given that when The Arsenal and manure were battling it out over four or five years, there were only two teams able to win the league…but the reasonthat was so was that they had the two best managers, who created sides that the others could not compete with and we were the first club to challenge utds dominance in the premiership.

            The Arsenal didn’t outspend pool, chelsea, spuds during this period, these teams just couldn’t compete with the top two in footballing terms.

            Then in 2003, along came Abramovitch with his russian money, just hours before they were to go into liquidation.
            This completely changed the landscape and, for a while, chelse dominated the transfer market, along with manure.

            This was also the time that kronkie took control, along with the Emirates having to be paid for as we moved in for the first premiership game in 2006.

            Up until then, we had appeared in our first and only CL final, won three doubles and a further fa cup.

            So we now have chelsea outspending everyone, alongside moneybags manure, while we have the Ems and kronkie.
            I just give you Mata as an example of what AW was facing…we scouted him, agreed terms and in walked chelsea with more money, both in salary and transfer fee…just one example.

            So, we are now third in the pecking order regarding players who are offered enormous salaries, meaning that the level of players available to the club goes down, that is a given isn’t it?

            Then, in 2008, comes an even bigger sysmic change…the arrival of Sheik Masout at mancity.
            He bought the club outright the year they finished 9th in the premiership, not having won the league for (I believe) 30 odd years.
            In the space of a few of years, he bought three of AW’s players…all identified as top men by city and dominated the scene as players were bought for record fees and sold for peanuts as they strove to begin the dominance that they have today.

            AW had to then replace them, with kronkies budget, the Emirates being paid for and having fallen back in real buying power by three clubs who could outmuscle us at any given transfer…and didn’t they just do it.

            However, the remarkable turnaround still hadn’t been completed, because in stepped the Fenway group, led by John Henry. Unlike our club, he had no stadium to pay for, had bought the club for a very good deal due to previous mis-managment by the previous owner and started to flex their muscles as well.

            Through all this turmoil, from 200/6, AW finished 4 – 4 – 3 – 4 – 3 – 4 – 3 – 4 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 5 – 6 in the premiership and won the fa cup three times.

            Now the reason I particularly asked Jon Fox the question, was because of his repeated accusations that from 2006 onwards, we had dross players etc etc: I am sure you have read his comments that re-appear at regular interviews and I have asked this question many times without an answer.

            So, I’ll ask you too ClassyGunner, how did he manage to maintain that top four position with the sea changes in the clubs I have mentioned above, the changes in level of players because of the buying power of those clubs and the “dross level” of players Jon says we had during the “barren years”?

            I note you say “the dross years brought us below topfour” and if that means that his last two years were terrible…then we have no disagreement at all. AW should have left when we beat the champions chelsea in the fa cup final.

            But Jon’s “dross years” date back to 2007 onwards, so you see my frustration??

            He always sways the argument by talking about the bad signings etc, that is not my question to him.

            I readily admit he has made some awful signings, some still with the club like mustafi…but the thing Jon doesn’t seem to understand is that, with all these shortcomings, AW did a remarkable job up until his last two seasons and should be appreciated not only for The Invincibles etc, but for keeping our club up with the elite during the changes that Abramovitch, Masour and Fenway bought to the premier league.

            UE inherited a squad of players who finished 5th and appeared in a european cup final that had approx. 20 AW dross players in it…and had won the fa cup the previous year against the champions UE wasn’t silly when he said he am very happy with what he had.

            Surely time to set the record straight regarding the so called “barren years” and appreciate what our club achieved?

            Sorry that this is so log, but to counteract the tripe that is levelled at AW it needs to be said.

            I don’t know if Jon has replied as I post this, but I will be amazed if naive, immature and blind isn’t part of his reply…let’s see as I post this at 21.24.

        2. Ken, Before we go any further down the Ozil discussions road, I would suggest you read my surprising(to you I SUSPECT) reply to you , way back on the Video thread where UE speaks about some of our players. I posted this reply just yesterday. I will wait for your reaction to that and then, if you still want a reply to those four/five Ozil questions(which you may need to repeat or help me find where they originated), then I will gladly do so.

          1. Jon, I have just posted my reply to ClassyGunner, so you can read that.

            I will look at your comments on the video thread, but I am sure you can answer all of the questions without me reacting.
            Can I suggest that, where they appeared doesn’t matter, as the contents of the questions remain the same?

            Really enjoyed ClassyGunners thoughts and reply, something that one could read and think about, showing respect to a different thought process, namely mine!!!

  18. Ask any of the top six managers what they need to do as a minimum and they all say Champions League football.
    That’s why it’s considered a trophy, because it gives a club a guaranteed budget to work on and tempts a lot of top players to join.

    We took it for granted, until three years ago and know it is imperitive to get back into it.

    For UE, this is a must as well and I would rather he concentrate on this goal to the detriment of everything else.
    We have a big enough squad to be competitive in the three cup competitions we are involved in and who knows what this, as yet, new squad of players can/will achieve?

    If I could have one wish come true, it would be to qualify for the CL…preferabilly as premier league champions of course!!!

    1. Dear Ken, thanks for replying to me on the previous comment. For some reason I can’t reply to your comment there so doing it here.

      So we both agree that circa 2008 when city got drenched with oil money we became the 4th best in England. After that, there was significant investment in Liverpool. However pool became consistently top 4 since 2016/17 not before that. The season before that they finished 8th.

      So, the point is that from 2008 to 2016 we were still top 4. However, we kept inching closer to lower teams instead of the once above us. Opponents knew exactly how we would setup, how we would play and exactly how to counter us. Wenger made no attempt to change. This period also saw humiliating results against the likes of City, Liverpool, Bayern. CL round of 16 was always our last. We were even knocked out by Monaco on one occassion never mind the Barca and Bayerns. And that is why inspite of achieving top 4 those years were still dross.
      We are now left praying for 4th because of those dross years. Not his last 2 but a few more.
      Kindly treat this as disagreement and not disrespect.

      1. ClassyGunner, thanks for the reply.
        Let’s assume, for the sake of this debate only, that I agree with everything you say…no ifs no buts.

        With all due respect, you still haven’t answered the question that all those who agree with the “barren years of dross players etc” seem unable to answer.

        How, and I emphasise the word HOW did he manage those top four places for eight of the ten barren/dross years?

        The players became worse, the defeats became worse, the signings became worse, our opponents became closer to us…so just how did this man maintain a twenty out of twenty two year reign of CL football qualification, a record in it’s own right?
        That’s the respect that I look for and seems to be missing.

        Ditto of course on your last sentence – love the debate and hope it carries on.

        1. Ken, the question has been very clearly answered. “HOW did he manage those top four places for eight of the ten barren/dross years?” Actually he didn’t have to do much since we were the 4th best team in England anyway. Granted that he got 3rd at times.

          Players, defeats,signings got worse and he never tried to stem the rot (or maybe he tried and failed). Either ways he was the team manager and could not stop the consistent fall.

          CL spot kept getting more and more difficult. 2-3 seasons we sneaked in by a solitary point relying on last day victories. One season God’s angels from Newcastle mashed the spuds on the final day to give us an unlikely 4th place. Next season though we had finally ran out of luck.

          1. ClassyGunner, you actually missed out 2nd place after grudgingly admitting 3rd place sometimes!!

            In actual fact, it was 4th six times and 3/2nd five times, they are the factual details.

            So, with those facts in mind, “what consistent fall” are you referring too?
            You just said that we were the fourth best team, we finished fourth six times and actually bettered that by rising to 3rd four times and second once.
            So by your method of judging him, AW actually did a near 50% better job than you give him credit for, do you agree?

            So we were the fourth best team and that’s why we had no problem qualifiying…that’s your reasoning behind the HOW question?
            But I thought we had “dross players”? I thought that AW couldn’t change with the times? I thought that these were “barren years”, where AW had lost the plot?
            So how come we were still the fourth best team and CL qualification was a formality?

            The following year, we missed OUT by one point, did that mean that we were unlucky then?
            We did, of course, beat the champions at Wembley to become the most successful team competing in the oldest cup competition in the world that same year, having beat mancity in the semi-final…perhaps we used up our luck in those two games?

            What about last season under UE, where we missed out, again, by one point, would you class that in the same way? After all Gods angels were watching over that Auba penalty were they not?

            I really cannot see your point about winning on the last day, only by one point, or one team mashing another…that is what the game of football is all about.
            I’m absolutely certain spud fans aren’t moaning about beating us into fourth spot by one point and relying on a last day victory to ensure CL qualification and thus devaluing the whole season because of it.
            When poch eventually leaves, do you think their fans will react in this way?
            Why are you using it as a reason to discredit, not only AW, but the squad of players who achieved these CL stats?

            Looking forward to your replies, at last I am having a sensible debate albeit it with opposite viewpoints.

  19. I think In five games time we will know where we will be in terms of performance and expectation. By definition we are challenging for the title as the season has started and it is a competition but to expect us t gain the consistency to obtain around 95 plus points which is what it likely takes to win the league is a more than a step up its a canyon leap. This season is a building block but I expect top four and a challenge next year. You never know though

  20. The target is the ideal not the realistic . So if the target is top four , it means they will end eighth . They have to target Beijing the Champions so as to get into the top four

  21. If they can win in a hostile atmospher like liverpool.. I might begin to believe. Until then mate we have etertain burnley… Hoping for a nice party for PAL

  22. The old English proverb says that nobody is perfect. Similarly there is no perfect team anywhere. All teams have their strong and weak points. Our Arsenal team is still in its formative stages. However this doesn’t mean that they will not be competing for trophies this season.
    I am at a loss to understand the logic of some people on this website. Perhaps this is a new email where analysis for the upcoming season is based on the previous season’s results. Last season is now dead and buried! We should focus on the new season. I highly doubt that Man City and Liverpool will get the points they had last season nor am I so naive to imagine that they will again be the two top teams. The dynamics for this season are fundamentally different from last season. Only a fool will expect Liverpool to lose one game the whole season. I also doubt that a team which loses one game a season will again fail to take the trophy. This is the season when Guardiola and Klopp will be seriously challenged by Emery. I expect Arsenal to surpass expectations. The doubting Thomases should brace themselves for surprises this season.

    1. David, Surely it is not “naive” to expect the two teams so very vastly clear of the rest to again this season be at least top two, even if the gap between them and the rest may reduce. That gap is a massive hurdle for all the rest to close. IMO, it would be NAIVE to expect it to be completely closed, not the contrary, as you apparently think. You MAY, however, have phrased what you actually meant in error and actually mean the opposite of what you wrote. Did you?

  23. Dear Ken,
    I see no merit in the few points that you have mentioned.
    Your points are in quotes
    “you actually missed out 2nd place after grudgingly admitting 3rd place sometimes!!” Grudgingly not at all. Didn’t mention second because that year every top team slipped for some different reasons. We should have actually won the league that season.

    “So, with those facts in mind, “what consistent fall” are you referring too?” If you are trying to say that we have not deteriorated since 2008 till end of AW era than you are simply refusing to see the reality. There is nothing I can do to help.

    “So we were the fourth best team and that’s why we had no problem qualifiying…that’s your reasoning behind the HOW question?” So would your reasoning not have 4th best team generally finishing in the top 4? Would 17th best team be expected to be in top 4?

    “But I thought we had “dross players”? I thought that AW couldn’t change with the times? I thought that these were “barren years”, where AW had lost the plot?” Yes, yes and Yes.

    “So how come we were still the fourth best team and CL qualification was a formality?” Because we started the period as 4th best. Arsenal kept getting worse but since the others were far behind at the beginning it took them years to catch up. AW didn’t manage to maintain the level he kept loosing it.

    “After all Gods angels were watching over that Auba penalty were they not?” Seriously Ken? Remember in what context I used it? A relegated team beating a 4th placed team, having CL qualification at stake, on their own ground and that too with a massive goal difference. And that helps us(then in 5th place) to achieve 4th. If that is not lucky then what is? And you are comparing that with a player missing a penalty?

    “I really cannot see your point about winning on the last day, only by one point, or one team mashing another…that is what the game of football is all about.” I was talking about the 4th place being decided on the last day not an individual game of football. IF you still do not see the point?

    “When poch eventually leaves, do you think their fans will react in this way?” React in what way? I don’t know about other fans, but my reflection of AW is that he is one of the greatest football managers of all time but his last few years were very bad. Do you want me to pretend that all his tenure with us was glossy?

    “Why are you using it as a reason to discredit, not only AW, but the squad of players who achieved these CL stats?” WHo is discrediting him and the players? All that I have ever said is we kept getting worse over the period. Even though we had the CL qualifications we were not improving or maintaining our position. We were slipping.

    Can I request you to may be discuss/debate one point at a time? Takes way too long to compile the replies. lol

    1. ClassyGooner, indeed I can do one point at a time:

      Let’s take the fourth best team discussion first of all.

      In his last four years of CL qualification, we finished 4th – 4th – 3rd – 2nd.
      Now I see that as a consistent improvement, not a consistent fall, especially as you say we were only the fourth best team in the league.
      With regards to you saying we were constantly slipping, how does that make sense, when we were qualifiying each year, 50% of the time doing so above our station of fourth best team?

      Your comment on finishing second doesn’t really hold water, unless you mean that AW’s team slipped less dramatically than all the others…and why, if we were the fourth best team, should we have won it? Shouldn’t we have finished fifth?

      The standard of football did deteriate, but that then opens up the next set of questions as to why and how did he maintain the CL spot with players of lesser ability, but I digress…one point at a time we agreed.

      ClassyGunner, I live up in Scotland, so I am leaving early tomorrow morning in order to be on time for the Saturday kick off via an o/night stay – also out tonight, but will see if you have replied when I get in later.
      I will try and pick up the conversation Monday when I arrive home and if you have replied to this tonight will answer that – thanks.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs