Monday, 14 May 2012

Mind The Gap

During writing my 'Fine Lines' article on Friday, I fantasised about writing this article after the game against West Brom entitling it 'Mind The Gap' to signify the ironic twist of Arsenal over- taking Tottenham this season to finish above them after taunts of 'Mind The Gap' from the Tottenham fans earlier in the season.

And 3 days later, here I am... minding the gap... between Arsenal and Tottenham, the day after the annual 'St. Totteringham's Day'. OK, it's not the pinnacle of success, but it comes as a great relief to finish above Tottenham, who supposedly had their best team in decades, whereas Arsenal supposedly had their worst team in 20 years and yet still finished above Tottenham in third place with 70 points.

It's a great achievement really, considering the restraints the club have been under this season. At the start of the season we lost Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy and we've had argubly our second best player in Jack Wilshere missing for the whole season through injury. Add to that playing for a month or so without ANY full- backs, Sagna being out for four months, Vermaelen missing 2 months, Arteta missing a few weeks and having an unsettled back- line throughout the season and you've got a pretty good achievement managing to finish third above other teams who didn't lose vital players and spent a lot more money than us, like Liverpool and Chelsea.

Yes, we've won nothing, but it's been a season of transition. We lost our best player, Nasri and Clichy and had Jack Wilshere injured all season. This means we had a lot to deal with in terms of replacing those players and attracting top players to the club. Yet we still qualified for the Champions League and finished third, despite having such heavy competition.

This is not to say I'm all of a sudden a great Wenger enthusiast, because I'm not. He's at least partly to blame for our very messy, dis- organised start to the season when our squad had been slightly dis- mantled. But I'm going to focus on the positives today, because there are a few.

Winning yesterday to secure third means a whole bunch of opportunities and chances open up to us that probably wouldn't have had we failed to qualify for the Champions League. One of these, and this is the most important, is we have a much better chance of keeping Robin Van Persie now. This is because:

  • We are a more attractive club to be at because we're in the Champions League.
  • Because we're in the Champions League, we're more likely to be able to sign better players, spend more transfer money and pay better wages.
  • And if we do this, we'll be a lot better equipped to challenge for trophies next season and, potentially, future seasons after that.
Therefore, yesterday allowed these opportunities to be opened up to us. We can build a better team now, sign better players and become a trophy winning side. Even if it just the FA Cup or Carling Cup, that'd still bring us a lot of joy to win it and push us on in future seasons to win more trophies. This would also make us an even more attractive club to join, hence improving our future prospects in terms of winning trophies and becoming a more successful, better club.

It seems really silly to say it, but it's true, that's what yesterday's win did for the club. Things are looking very bright... as long as we can keep Robin Van Persie. And if I was Ivan Gazidis or Arsene Wenger, I'd be doing everything I could to persuade him to stay, because he is SO important to Arsenal Football Club, it's almost unbelievable.

We shouldn't be in this position, the club and the manager have messed up here in getting us into a position where we are so heavily reliant on one player, but we're here now, they can make up for that by persuaidng him to stay, and if they can do that, then everything is looking very rosy indeed. Oddly, perhaps more rosy than things will be looking for Man Utd infact. Chelsea too, if they fail to win the Champions League next week. Our competiton could be weakening just as we're strengthing as teams like Chelsea and Tottenham could fail to attract top players while finding it very hard to keep hold of key players.

So things are looking good at the moment.

Mind... The... Gap.

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