It’s been a tough two weeks for Arsenal, exiting three cups and having our usual injuries surfacing has hit the club and it’s supporters hard. Arsene Wenger’s decisions have been questioned, his lack of defensive signings brought up time and time again, and his future at Arsenal questioned by some.
Hearing and reading the negative media and public opinion directed toward Arsenal would give one the allusion the club are floundering above the drop zone, having been hammered by FC Kluj and knocked early in all the domestic cups.
This simply isn’t the case, and when you compare what Arsenal would have been aiming for come the start of the season, with what they have achieved, the outlook doesn’t look so bad.
Starting with the Carling Cup, a cup that we didn’t really want to win but had the attitude that it would do, at least to stop the drought. Badly timed train bookings meant I missed the match, so can’t really comment, but there is no way Arsenal will let their season be measured by winning or not winning the Carling Cup.
As it is, the team got to the final thanks to some resilient performances and were unfortunate to come up against a Birmingham team who obviously wanted it more.
The Champions League success that Arsenal had has been washed away by the mauling that took place at the Nou Camp, but once again we need to look beyond the last thing to happen. Arsenal made a great start in their group, but some poor performances meant they finished second—an often fatal mistake in the Champions League.
Drawing FC Barcelona was bad news for Arsenal, and they were always the underdogs. Not because of anything to do with us, but Barcelona are just that good. Arsenal won the first leg and could have progressed (unjustly, admittedly) with a little more luck. The final aggregate score was 4-3.
In other words, from a purely quantitative perspective, we lost to the team that many are calling the best ever, who have a goal difference of plus-65 after 28 games, by one goal.
The game at Old Trafford on Sunday could have been very different. Manchester United were fortunate with their goals, and Edwin van Der Sar was roundly voted the man of the match for keeping Arsenal out.
Had it been anyone else in goal, we would have won. The positive aspect is that Manchester United’s fixture list is now significantly bigger than ours, hopefully they’re not able to be so forceful on all fronts.
The Premier League is still very much up for grabs, although the injury to Johan Djourou does make it exceptionally difficult. But last season Arsenal were never really in the running to win the League, it was always going to be either Chelsea or Manchester United. This season, Arsenal would be hard-done by not to finish second.
So even though it’s been a horrible couple of weeks, it’s still been an encouraging season for Arsenal.
By the way, I don’t know if it’s just me, but reading the recent Peter Crouch interview solidifies Arsenal position as the top dogs in London, from our league position to our mentality.
Crouchy said, “Getting further than Arsenal definitely means something to the players. The fans certainly noticed it as well. You could hear them at the end, chanting: ‘Are you watching Arsenal?' We have wanted to get as close to Arsenal as possible”.
When Arsenal finish above Spurs in the league, or anywhere else, it’s hardly even celebrated. It’s certainly not a consolation to losing. I don’t say to my mates after the season has ended, “Well, at least we did better than Spurs.”
If Tottenham really want to finish ahead of Arsenal, the players and the fans need to drop this strange attitude.