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Is fourth really the ambition for Arsenal?

Champions league football, mid-week European games and huge pot of cash as the reward for making it that far. This is all well and good for the club being able to generate even more revenue and remain in the top European elite, at least financially. Yet as a fan we have come to expect an awful lot more over the past few seasons and rightly so. Since Arsenal have previously won a trophy in 2005 the football world has changed,evolved and grown at to great of a speed for the club to adapt to. The rise of clubs with major financial backing such as Chelsea and Man City over that time has left the club happy to settle for just scraping into the champions league. The mentality of the club versus the likes of Man City has gone completely backwards. Instead of buying top players and building on the side, the top players at the club have all been sold and it is clear to see that the philosophy of creating out own talent is not working to the affect that Wenger would like to see. This season whoever has been slightly different.

Since the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa in the opening game of the season, the spirit of the playing squad received a serious lift with the record signing of one of Europe’s top n10’s, Mesut Ozil. Since then on the squad didn’t seem to look back and gained in confidence all over the pitch, clearly to be seen with the impact Aaron Ramsey and Oliver Giroud have had for long spells over the duration of the campaign. One major signing lifted the whole playing squad and up until January were real serious contenders for the league. This challenge became seriously derailed when Ramsey got injured on Boxing day and Walcott in early January and their absence was visible from then on. This should have been corrected the moment the January transfer window opened yet there was no real desire to sign anyone. The attempt to sign the young German international Julian Draxler from Schalke really showed up the clubs weaknesses in big money transfers. This proves the lack of desire from the clubs hierarchy to want to sustain a good run and seriously be competing for the league at the closing end of the season. Since this missed opportunity, the form has been in serious decline without the key injured players and the performance drop and injury to Ozil and the personal crisis and absence of Oliver Giroud.

Fourth place once again is what the club have to settle for when the potential and finances are there to be competing for the league. The F.A cup run has been the only major hope all season for Arsenal and should be the heavy favourites for the final with proving their superiority over Hull recently. This bit of silverware is badly needed to end the clubs barren run and ultimately in the view of many, secure Arsene Wenger’s future as manager. With Everton surely to far back now over the next two games to finish fourth, Arsenal should still have their champions league nights and continually generating revenue. The key now to move beyond fourth and sustain a serious challenge next season is to further our spending in the summer transfer market and be in the market for the top players that preform at the World Cup and have proven themselves in the season before.

The future of Arsene Wenger on the other hand has came under some serious discussion in recent weeks with the his contract due to expire in the summer with the prospect of the French man signing another deal unclear. Only winning an F.A Cup and securing Champions League football would keep Wenger at this stage and doing this certainly isn’t guaranteed. Looking beyond Wenger what real long term managers are going to be available realistically. The real strong candidate would be Roberto Martinez with Jurgen Klopp in close contention for the job as they would both be a good fit for the club. Both these mangers are proven and wither would be an ideal replacement and would make good use of the funds provided. The ambition for next season must be beyond fourth place and the fans now all finally know the club can make the step.

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  1. Michael

    2 May, 2014 at 22:42

    As a Newcastle fan, I would love fourth place to be a realistic target each season. It’s been 10 years since we were last in Europe’s elite competition and in my opinion (albeit a slightly biased one), that is far too long for a club that has regularly attracted crowds of over 50,000 for the past 13 years.

    Obviously the emergence of the cash rich clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City have had a profound effect on the Premier League in general, but in particular teams like Arsenal. I have always had an admiration for Arsenal in the sense that their philosophy is to play football in the correct manner which is also pleasing on the eye. Arsene Wenger definitely has his short-comings but on the whole I find him to be a likable character and definitely think that the Premier League would be a poorer place without him.

    You touched on it in your article, but I think that the overriding factor in not challenging further up the league for a more sustained period each season is the quality of the squad (this is not to be confused with the starting 11 which, in my opinion is well balanced and strong). This is not helped by the fact that Arsenal, regrettably, are a selling club. It makes it extremely difficult (as we found out in January when we sold our best player) to progress when you sell your best players to your immediate rivals. Now selling Cabaye to PSG is unlikely to have any direct retributions on ourselves as far as PSG pipping us to the Premier League title (if only). However, selling Nasri and RVP to rivals who were already above you in the league only strengthens their hand further. It would not be so bad if you could find like for like replacements, but in truth, this is where Wenger has let himself down. It appears that the days have gone where Wenger could pick up a Viera, a Bergkamp or an Henry; genuinely world class players who would die for the Arsenal cause, which in honesty is all that any football fan wants to see a player do for their club.

    Arsenal did try and reverse this trend by signing Ozil in August, and the effect was immediate by the lift that he gave the rest of the squad. Aaron Ramsay also played a pivotal role in this period and that is duly noted. However, do you think Ozil will be here in 5 years? Do you think he will ever have the same passion for Arsenal as the players that I mentioned earlier in the post have? In my opinion he won’t. That is not to say that I don’t think that he is world class because on his day, that is undeniable. However, excuse the cliche, but one player doesn’t make a team.

    To answer your initial question, I think that fourth should be the minimum ambition for Arsenal as everything is in place to challenge at the top end for a more sustained period of the season, instead of dropping off around January; great stadium, financial security and clout and a decent squad. I think that a few key signings and you will be there or thereabouts come the end of next season. Liverpool and Man Utd showed in the pre-season that a club can stand strong and be more powerful than the player which is also what Arsenal need to do in order to build success season on season.

    But for this season, 4th and the FA Cup should surely be welcome end to the season compared to recent seasons.

    Good, well written read though.


  2. Slacker

    6 May, 2014 at 22:10

    mid table shite, should be happy with fourth as it’s beyone their wildest dreams!

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