Arsenal Slip To 4th But Must Find A Way To Move ForwardBy: Sairax | May 18th, 2011
Yesterday saw Manchester City beat Stoke City 3-0 and move up to 3rd spot on the table. This leaves Arsenal lingering in 4th place with one game left to play in the league. The only way we can regain the final automatic Champions League qualification spot is if we beat Fulham at Craven Cottage this weekend and if Man City lose or draw away to Bolton. Considering our recent form and theirs, I’m going to go ahead and assume we will be finishing fourth this season. Considering Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City all have higher wage bills than us (Soccernomics made the case that where you finish in the league generally tends to correlate with where you stand amongst the other clubs with regards to wage spending), then 4th place seems about right for a team with the 4th highest wage bill. Not that that is much consolation for any of us at the moment because there is some real quality in this team and we even made a cup final, so it looked like some silverware might finally come for Arsenal.
As we can see, the team did not live up to expectations. I fully believed we would win a trophy this season. Some might say I was delusional, but really, I don’t care because all I do is hope for the best for my team. If it doesn’t come to pass then so be it, but to watch our season crumble has been really painful. Some people are pointing out that they knew all along this would happen. Good for you. Here’s a cookie. Even if I had doubts in the back of my mind during the season that we would choke at the most inopportune moments, I chose to keep believing that we could turn things around. Looking back now and seeing where we are in the table, it is obvious we could not. If we lose to Fulham, we will end the season on 67 points. That would match our worst point return under Wenger, which was 67 points in 2005/06, though we did make our first Champions League/European Cup final ever (ever) that season.
There is a lot of anger at Wenger and the team right now, and understandably so. I, for one, cannot feel anger at this moment. I can’t be angry when I see Wenger’s face, brow furrowed, creases in his skin even deeper, and a sadness and frustration that is so visible that it is painful to look at. I also see those players that really did try this season. Yes, the team did not deliver, but there were some players that tried so hard this season, and I just want to pick them up and tell them to keep fighting. The team has been drained and sucked dry of any confidence they may have had. This is the time when I realize that even with the capitulation and blown opportunities, I still feel the urge to cheer on the Arsenal and proudly wear the badge and stand by my team.
This summer is going to be an interesting one. Obviously, there needs to be some surgery done to the team. What that really means, I don’t know. Who is going to leave? Who is going to come in? I don’t know. If you ask me, in a perfect world, who do I want, I could give you a laundry list that includes Sanchez, Chiellini, Baines, Rossi, Higuain, Eto’o, and several others, but does it matter? I have absolutely no control over this and really, don’t even know what we can afford at this point. The reality of the transfer market is that the highest bidder wins, so even if we want a player, we have to ward off the likes of Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester City to sign them. The wages that players are getting at some of these clubs is unbelievable. I’m sure there are some realistic signings that the club has in mind. Whether they happen or not is yet to be seen. As for who will leave, again, I don’t know. I wish I could give you some confident answer on these lingering questions, but when I don’t know something, I am totally fine with admitting it. There are question marks with several of our players like Cesc, Nasri, Clichy, and Arshavin, as to whether or not they will stay. I will be gutted to see any of them leave, but what is to be will be, right? In order to move forward, I think that keeping our best players is essential. We need those quality players so we can build and strengthen the squad. If they don’t want to be here, of course, I would not stop them from leaving. The motto on our crest next season says “Forward” and this team needs to find a way to move forward somehow. The feeling that things have grown stale, not just with the squad, but even with our play on the field, seems greater now than ever. The push forward needs to begin as soon as possible. Look forward, think forward, move forward.
We have one last game to play. It would be nice if we could at least see a good effort from the players on the pitch. We seem destined to finish fourth, which is a bitter pill to swallow, and will certainly throw a wrench into our preseason plans. Some on twitter mused that the club actually wanted us to finish fourth since that would give us two extra games and more revenue. People are seriously starting to lose it. I mean, if we finished first, I’m sure that would bring in more money and more butts in seats, not to mention a Community Shield match. Anyway, a fourth place finish would mean that we would have to play a qualifier to enter the Champions League group stages. Luckily, the main website has put up an article outlining what teams we could face. You can check out this site as well for a more in-depth explanation on coefficients and seedings.
Six years, no trophy. So disappointing, but I know we’ll get trophies again someday soon. In the meantime, Liverpool seems to have joined the five years, no trophy club. Let’s hope Chelsea join us next!
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