Another home defeat probably means that most blogs will be flooded by more ‘Arsenal in crisis’ articles. But surely, for a club that hasn’t won a piece of silverware for seven years and has turned into a feeder club for Barcelona and City, being five points off fourth position with less than half of the season’s games played cannot be termed as a ‘crisis’ situation.
Over the past couple of seasons, Arsenal have in fact done very well to finish in the top four given their squad, injuries suffered, and poor starts to the campaign (especially in the 11/12 season). The club seems to be shifting focus from a genuine title contender to a team challenging for a place in Europe. This is also evident from transfer market dealings in the past couple of seasons where they have been looking to fill the void left by better players that have moved on. Players like Marouanne Chamakh, Andre Santos, Gervinho, and Per Mertesacker aren’t as good as the players who they were bought in to replace. Recent performances also indicate that the team isn’t performing well as a collective unit. With the exception of Manchester City, most title winning sides won’t have a world class player in each position. It’s the cohesive and collective effort that makes a title winning side. This was also the case with the ‘Arsenal Invincibles’ and the other title winning sides under Wenger. The team currently needs more leaders within the team who can bring up the performances of other players around them.
Though most Arsenal fans will always term the stars who left them as mercenaries, most of them have gone on to win trophies with other teams (Clichy, Nasri, Toure, Fabregas). These players were at their prime and wanted to cap their professional careers with trophies to match their reputations. Who is to say that players like Giggs and Scholes would have never left Manchester United had the club not won any trophies over a long period of time?
Yet, it isn’t all doom and gloom for Arsenal fans. In a league where, in 15 games, the top side has lost three times and conceded 21 times, there will most definitely be more points dropped by the teams currently above Arsenal. After promising starts to the season, both West Brom and Everton have started dropping points more regularly. Arsenal are in the quarter finals of the league cup and should be among the favourites to win it. They have progressed through to the next round of the Champions League for the 13th year in a row.
There is still a long way to go in the season. With the consistency of the appointment and support shown to Wenger by the owners, the club can still recover this season and qualify for the Champions League spot, and probably win a trophy. Even if they don’t win anything, given the change in personnel on the pitch, difference of opinions over funds available for transfers between the board and Wenger, and the financial clout exercised by their competitors, Arsenal fans and critics should appreciate another top 4 finish, which by no means, would be an under achievement.