Big teams equal high standards.
For teams like Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, when it comes to doing well in a season, it means finishing first. Maybe Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson have been satisfied in the past after their team has finished second. Maybe (bigger clubs like these take these table finishes for granted, as teams like Fulham, Stoke, Bolton, etc. consistently finish mid-table).
But right now, Arsenal have finished fourth in the Premier League, a catastrophic finish for a club as prestigious as the Gunners. And now, during the summer, things are certainly not getting any better.
Arguably Arsenal's two best players over the last few years, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, are prepared to leave North London. Fabregas, the conductor of the Arsenal orchestra, is poised to return home to Barcelona, where he grew up and trained in his early years. Nasri, who had an outstanding 10-11 season, looks like he might leave to either of the Manchester clubs, and a shock move to Chelsea isn't entirely out of the question.
In 2009/2010, the Arsenal squad without Fabregas was a disaster. For example, there was one match against Aston Villa in December 2009, where Fabregas did not start. For the first 50-something minutes, the match consisted of one team lobbing the ball into the other's box, the other team clearing, and vice versa. Then, Fabregas came on, and changed the tone of the game completely, scoring two goals and leading Arsenal to a 3-0 win.
That match just highlighted the difference between normal Arsenal and Cesc-less Arsenal.
Last year, however, Fabregas was plagued by injury and started only 22 out of 38 Premier League matches for Arsenal, but the Gunners nonetheless managed to hold up (kind of). Hopefully for Arsenal, they can play well without Fabregas, as he is almost sure to leave this year.
Samir Nasri, who last year scored 10 goals in 28 games for Arsenal, showed that he is one of the best players in the Premier League, and maybe even in the world. He showed that he could create something out of nothing with the ball at his feet, and lead the Arsenal attack.
Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Nasri looks ready to go to Manchester United, Manchester City, or maybe even stay in North London, in an unexpected move to Stamford Bridge.
Nasri was crucial for Arsenal in '10-'11, because though Robin van Persie scored many more goals than anticipated, he didn't create a lot of them himself. Nasri was probably the best creator of opportunities, and van Persie will need some help in order to score goals.
Every team in the top three of the EPL has at least two big names on the attack. Manchester United have Rooney and Nani; Chelsea have Drogba and Lampard; Manchester City have Tevez, Silva, Balotelli, etc.
If Arsenal lose two huge players with even bigger names, they will worsen physically and mentally.
Clearly, if they lose their key passer and their biggest chance creator, their performance on the pitch won't be as good. Moreover, their confidence will go down, as the thought of losing the Cesc Fabregas and the Samir Nasri is not very encouraging.
So I predict that if Arsenal lose their Catalan midfielder in addition to their French forward, the Gunners will fall out of the top four teams in England.