Waking up yesterday morning did not feel good. I won’t lie, for a bit of Arsenal comfort, I chucked on the end of Fever Pitch with a spare thirty minutes I had. It didn’t help. I simply found myself envious of the people in the streets outside Highbury celebrating winning a title.
The feeling I couldn’t escape yesterday was a feeling Arsenal have been defying all year: we are second best.
And, sure, people have been telling us that all season. Rivals have been bantering us, likening us to an elephant in a tree, and I would expect nothing less from them. I really could not care less about what other fans are saying, even if I am confused by the number of them that want to see City win a third straight league title.
But all season Arsenal have been earning their place at the top of the table. Winning their way to rightfully state they deserved to be at the top – and they did! 23 wins is no small feat.
Sadly, however, Wednesday showed the difference between these two teams currently and left me with that confirming feeling of: Arsenal losing both games to City, dominated at the Etihad, behind City in most statistics, and likely to be passed up in the coming weeks. Rightfully second best.
So what now?
Well, for starters, we have to say – the league isn’t over. Miracles happen, luck exists, other teams often face a less-focused City team and games in hand don’t automatically equal 3 points.
Which brings us to something I wrote earlier in the week – Arsenal need to try and take this tile fight the distance, it matters. For team morale, for moral victories, for pride and honor – Arsenal have to play these remaining five fixtures with the same intent and energy they would if this title was firmly in their grasp.
- you know never know what happens with City as they turn attention back to Champions League and face their fixtures
- Arsenal have a chance to end this season on 90 points
90 points is an amazing feat. No one wants to hear it right now, but that is an incredible number. For context, 90 points wins the title in 20 of the Premier League’s 30 seasons and takes 2 others — including Arsenal’s Invincible — to Goal Differential.
At this point, having City drop enough points to give Arsenal the title WOULD feel a lot like luck, but there is nothing lucky about earning 90 points in a season.
FINISH STRONG. Please, Arsenal.
Beyond this Season?
Beyond this season, it’s about Arsenal maintain the course of this project. The temptation for many is to flip the switch to win-now and splash a lot of cash on players at their peak 27-29 years of age. Not for me.
Every year since Arsenal’s initial project-starting window, they have bumped up their “ideal” age profile by a tiny bit. This summer, they should do it once more and look for that 24-26 player for their marquee signings.
Besides the quality that names like Rice and Caicedo, and even Mount bring, they offer players with lots of talent now with room for growth and improvements. If you Arsenal are going to splash cash, it’s about spending it on the profile as much as possible. With this level of talent and output from players so young, the club have a responsibility to make this club competitive at title-challenging level for the next decade, not the next few years.
Positionally, Arsenal need to bolster their midfield. Can’t pull a Liverpool and have a good starting backline, three 20 G/A attackers, and a lackluster midfield. If Arsenal are going to allocate most their funds toward one goal, it’s significantly raising the levels there, while reducing the age profile.
Thankfully, David Ornstein is already confirming Arsenal’s interest Rice and Caicedo for Arsenal’s #6 role, and Mason Mount and Mohammed Kudus for the #8 left center midfield role.
Locking down the future of these two positions and clarifying what Areta’s vision is for the left-eight role are crucial to moving this project forward.
After that, it’s about continuing to solidify depth. We saw the shortcomings this season. Those issues will only be exacerbated by the Champions League IF Arsenal don’t solve them.
Looking forward to seeing what the club accomplishes with the allure of Champions League, the extra funds, and hopefully, further help and faith from KSE. The league is an arms race. We may never be like City or United or whatever Newcastle become, but we will have to keep up as best as possible.
Time to see what names crop up! Leaving it there for today. Rest up and try to enjoy the rest of the way.
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