Keep the faith – All is not lost for Arsenal
As the dust settles on a disappointing exit for Arsenal from the Champions League, Arsenal are now again out of contention for any trophies for a fifth season running, and if you were to believe many Arsenal blogs and fans the sky is falling.
Well, I am here to tell you that there is no disgrace in the way Arsenal have performed with an injury depleted squad this season, and certainly reaching 2 semi-finals and securing Champions League football for next season is nothing to be ashamed of.
Yes, defeat to Manchester United the other evening was a crushing blow for all of us but Arsenal have much to be proud of and Arsenal fans have much to look forward to.
The two early goals that Man Utd scored were a sucker punch, a hammer blow. The first goal was caused by an unfortunate and forgiveable slip from youngster Gibbs and the second was an unstoppable Ronaldo thunderbolt. Arsenal had shown early promise, but once the goals went in Man Utd had a huge advantage and did not need to take any risks and could concentrate on defending their position; making a comeback for Arsenal difficult at best.
Many people are calling for a complete overhaul in the summer with signings to seemingly replace the whole squad. While I agree that the squad could do with some strengthening, I think the calls for a mass upheaval are short-sighted.
Whilst our rivals have spent themselves into massive debt to compete, Wenger has built a strong young team for a tiny percentage of the cash spent by other clubs, and Arsenal have been competing at the highest level but just fell short of the standard this season.
Many fans would seemingly have Arsenal spending themselves into debt to get themselves to the very highest level, but this is a blatantly unsustainable trend. I for one would rather see the team spend within their means and safeguard the future of the club rather than bankrupt themselves – it is only a matter of time before our competitors find themselves in this sort of monetary trouble.
I would also remind people who say that Wenger is scared to reach for his cheque book that he spent a good deal of money on Nasri in the summer (another player who has yet to reach his potential) and broke the club transfer record for Arshavin during (or slightly after ) the transfer window.
There is change underfoot in the Arsenal board room and I expect Wenger to make a signing or two in the summer; but we do not need to get ourselves into that sort of debt.
The key for Wenger’s strategy is to keep the squad he has built together as it matures, something I agree he failed in doing last summer and which has cost us this season. But next year the team will mature further and will feature a Champions League squad bolstered by Andrei Arshavin, something I am really looking forward to – look at the impact he has already made in the Premiership.
Even Adebayor was quoted yesterday as calling for signings, a position I find ironic because all that Arsenal really lack apart from another steady central defender is a top-class goal-scorer – which I would have no problem with Arsenal financing through the sale of Adebayor.
Furthermore, whilst Arsenal were humbled by the master-class Manchester Utd gave them, they did not disgrace themselves in the sort of way the Chelsea players did yesterday evening with their shameful and petulant display at the end of the defeat to Barcelona. There are indeed more important things than football results, and I happen to believe that grace and sportsmanship are but two of those things.
I’m not saying that Arsenal are necessarily going to magically transition into the best team in the world next season, nor am I saying that Arsenal’s season has been a disaster or that the team are useless. In other words, football (and indeed life) is not black and white like a Newcastle shirt but a palette of greys like Liverpool’s awfully hideous away kit.
Unlike the ageing Chelsea squad, the Arsenal team have time on their side, these players all have long careers ahead of them and I truly believe that in time they will deliver triumph and deliver that elusive Champions League trophy.