Because their 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday apparently wasn’t good enough.
Perhaps for a title challenger, a rank I’d put Arsenal in earlier this season, a draw away at Villa Park isn’t good enough.
But for a top-four contender, which they now are, 10 points behind league leaders Manchester United with a third of the season gone, the bigger picture should show that a point there isn’t too much to regret.
Of course, a key feature of Arsenal’s season so far has been their vulnerability to concede a goal, thus a lead, thus the three points, virtually at any stage of a match.
And without a genuine magic-maker who can conjure a goal or a brilliant game-changing move, the Arsenal midfield looks at times predictable and lethargic, far removed from their glory “Invincibles” days.
Sometimes, though, the context has to be considered, and the circumstances surrounding Arsenal and some recent commercial news mean that the future is bright at the Emirates Stadium.
Let’s start with recent results and the squad itself.
It’s not a big secret that Kieran Gibbs has been a key miss for Arsenal, perhaps their biggest one currently, as Arsene Wenger continues to struggle to find a solution for that left-back slot.
The hapless Andre Santos and the now-error-prone Thomas Vermaelen have both been tried there to no avail, requiring Lukas Podolski, that workhorse of a left-winger, to track back and help out. (How is it that Bacary Sagna hasn’t been tried there with Carl Jenkinson, much improved and newly capped for England, starting at right-back?)
This disrupts the team dynamic going forward as much as Abou Diaby’s injury has done.
Which, given Alexandre Song’s ill-timed and frankly unnecessary departure from the club, has deprived the Gunners of a true physical driving presence in the midfield, which, for all of Mikel Arteta’s great work as stand-in defensive midfielder, is currently nonexistent.
Factor in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s recent injuries, along with the need for Aaron Ramsey to fill in as a Jordan Henderson-type, and it has hampered the entire midfield approach.
With their impending returns to the first team, this is the footballing side to the equation.
But when it comes to Arsene Wenger, the footballing side can be as impressive as the business side, on which the media spotlight has frequently shone in recent years.
The premise is simple: Without frequent and considerable injection of cash into Wenger’s transfer coffers, he won’t be able to compete financially and thus on the football field.
The most common defence of Wenger that the “Arsene Knows” brigade will offer at this point is his history of unearthing young talents and bringing in bargain signings, and that Arsenal have just advanced from the Champions League group stages for the 13th successive season.
A pretty impressive record given the recent rise of several financial (and thus footballing) powerhouses across Europe, but let me posit that the future looks quite encouraging as well.
The recent news that Arsenal secured a five-year extension to their sponsorship deal with Emirates has to come as a huge positive, which was only one of the most lucrative in football history.
Add to this a potentially huge kit deal with Adidas, and this represents a much sunnier climate in North London in just a matter of weeks.
The significance of this cannot be lost on everyone associated with Arsenal.
Long saddled with debts associated with their newly built Emirates Stadium and a ballooning wage bill that puts them in fourth place on the Premier League wage charts, Arsenal have long cried for investment and, really, just some money for Wenger to spend.
Now they have that, and assuming that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are successfully implemented and closely monitored, Arsenal are in pole position to advance.
The signs were there this summer, with Wenger splashing out for Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, whose signings have proven that if the targets are right, Wenger is indeed willing to pay.
So, rather than having to face a raft of signings that smell of financial restraint, Arsenal fans can harbor a cautious optimism and hope for more Cazorla-type pickups from financially stricken clubs who will come under further trouble in the next few years.
Where does that put Arsenal?
Make no mistake: These recent commercial deals cannot and will not elevate the Gunners to the stratosphere belonging to those mega-rich clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Anzhi Makhachkala.
But it’s in times like this that perhaps a longing look over one’s shoulder to Arsenal’s rich history is worth the effort, because if Arsenal have been keeping pace in both the Premier League and Europe with their spending reined in, what’s their potential when the purse strings are loosened?
Alternatively: Who else would Arsenal want to spend their new sponsorship cash than Arsene Wenger?
Also check out: 10 Reasons Behind Arsenal’s Current Slump
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