Arsenal are by no means a bad team, but they are some way off being a top team. Having lost RvP in the summer, as well as Alex Song, it was always going to be difficult to mount anything close to a title challenge. Despite this, with the signing of Cazorla in particular, some Arsenal fans got overly optimistic, believing this could be their year. What followed were two successive draws at the start of the season. Many put this down to an influx of new players and a new style. Arsenal later drew at City, believing this to be their home coming as a top side. At this stage they’d in reality only won two league games, despite a huge surge of optimism from the fans.
When Chelsea came to Arsenal and won, it became clear, Arsenal were not title challengers. The defeat to Norwich re-affirmed this. This should not have been a surprise; with just two wins in the Premier League prior to that game the fans simply got far too carried away and thus set themselves up for a fall. Having lost to Norwich and now Shalke fans are again questioning what is wrong, the thing that is wrong is their own expectations. Arsenal fans must become more realistic or risk continual disappointment. It is absurd to expect Arsenal to challenge Chelsea, City or United who operate with huge budgets and have the ability to pay big wages to keep their best stars.
With Arsenal’s prudent business model they cannot expect better than a top four finish, which in itself should be viewed as a good achievement Wenger’s consistent ability to finish fourth is a hallmark of his quality and ability to work well on a tight budget. The wages reportedly offered to van Persie by United would be unthinkable at Arsenal, which is where the problem lies. Money talks in the modern game and Arsenal aren’t willing to splash the cash. Instead, as they were this summer, they must be prudent and look for shrewd signings, at time taking risks. Top, established stars or Europe’s hottest prospects such as Hazard are not realistic targets due to their profile and wage demands. Arsenal took a risk bringing in Giroud for example, it’s difficult to say whether he can turn his Ligue 1 form into Premier League form, but if he does £12 million will look a bargain signing.
There is cause for optimism. The race for 4th might be tight, but Arsenal are surely favourites with a host of exciting players in their side, including the impressive Santi Cazorla. Their midfield is one of the best around; few sides have as many options as Arteta, Wilshire, Ramsay, Rosicky, Diaby and Cazorla in centre midfield. Further to this youthful players like Wilshire and Oxlade-Chamberlain could really step up over the next few seasons. With this in mind, as well as if the club keep finishing fourth the future may be better than the present, especially if financial regulations are tightened. Knee-jerk reactions suggesting the club should let Wenger go are also deluded, he is arguably the man keeping them competitive.
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