Past, present and the future - season 2011-12
An Arsenal fan's view of the 2011/12 season so far
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Past, present and the future - season 2011-12

To describe Arsenal’s season so far in just one word would be difficult, however ‘frustrating’ would be a good place to start. Frustrating because of the games we’ve thrown away, frustrating because of our constant stream of long-term injuries, frustrating because of our complete and utter inconsistency.

From the devastating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford to our resurgent form in November, back to a point-less January – there hasn’t been one moment in the season where I’ve felt comfortable with our form, team or ambition.

Author: FootballAway
"...Arsenal have £50m to improve the team but £45m of that would be lost if we missed out on fourth spot. "
Jaime Rae Keeble


I write this after a week where we had our heaviest European defeat against AC Milan, followed by a two-goal loss to Sunderland in the FA Cup. Needless to say it’s not been a good seven days for Arsenal Football Club as a combination of injuries, bad luck and an apparent lack of fighting spirit meant that we never really looked like we would get anything from either of those games.


... there was a point where we were 17th in the league

With only eleven Premier League games left this season, it is most definitely crunch time, and we still have to play Tottenham, Newcastle and Man City at the Emirates between now and May. I would say that this is one of the more difficult run-ins that I can remember but our performances during our final ‘easier’ games in recent seasons haven’t exactly been impressive, so I suppose anything’s possible.

Current League Position for ArsenalAt the moment we sit fourth in the league, level on points with Chelsea but having scored more goals. We’re out of the Carling Cup, and the FA Cup and I’m going to take a punt and say we’re out of the Champions League as well. So another trophy-less season awaits, unless you agree with Arsene Wenger’s view that fourth place is a trophy, which, however you dress it, just isn’t true. Considering how catastrophically our season started and the calibre of players we lost in the summer, it would still be a fantastic achievement to get a Champions League place, after all us Gooners have to remember that there was a point where we were 17th in the league. That said, Arsene’s PR strategy leaves a lot to be desired.


Securing fourth place is the main target

If we stay in the top four come the end of the season, I will be relieved rather than overjoyed, and consider it a fantastic turnaround. Securing fourth place is most definitely the necessary target for the rest of the season. Not only will this ensure greater revenue coming into the club but may also give us a better chance of attracting and retaining top-notch players, and it’s definitely the only way we’d be able to convince Van Persie to extend his contract. As much as there is an argument amongst some supporters for dropping down the table to take a year out from European football and rebuild the team, it’s not something I personally want to see.


You’d have to say that we are lucky that in the season where we have found it nigh on impossible to string a decent set of results together, our main competitors for that fourth pace – namely Chelsea and Liverpool – are also having their own mini crises in the league. As much as we can berate our own players for not always getting three points when other teams falter, we still have to thank our lucky stars that they are dropping points.

Saying that we’re only a few bad results away from finishing outside even the Europa League spots, which brings me on to the worse-case scenario…


A world before the era of oil-igarchs and billionaires

The beautiful Arsenal stadium Emirates

I don’t know if it’s ever been mentioned in the media but did you know that Arsenal have gone seven whole years without a trophy? Shocking I know. In that time, however, we’ve also built a brand-spanking new stadium. Now, the problem is that we were living in a very different world when Arsenal decided to relocate, a world before the era of oil-igarchs and billionaires, a world where the self-sustainable model that Arsenal had planned would have, in theory, brought us great success.

However that plan went askew when we suddenly had to compete with the unfathomable riches of the super-clubs as well as overcoming the financial obstacles of building a new stadium. Whilst I appreciate and understand the situation we have found ourselves in, the fear amongst fans in the last few years is that our football club is being treated like a business, boasting about profits rather than achievements on the pitch. In many ways we’ve lost the glory that most football fans thrive on.


£50M or potentially £5M transfer budget

Champoions League MoneyThe problem with this is that qualifying for the Champions League is imperative on a financial level, as discussed in the Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting on Monday evening, where it was made clear that Arsenal have £50m to improve the team but £45m of that would be lost if we missed out on fourth spot. The worst-case scenario doesn’t really bear thinking about. The combination of the changing playing field of what is defined as ‘wealth’ in football and our choice to build a new stadium means that we are incredibly reliant on Champions League Football – more than the clubs around us, therefore we will fall harder than any of them if we fail to get fourth.


What do I realistically think we’ll achieve from this season?

I think we can get fourth, but it will still take an incredible amount of work to get there. Having the fourth largest wage bill in the league it would seem logical that we would get fourth spot in the league, but obviously logic has absolutely no place in football. What’s certain, however, is that the stakes for us are rather high this season.



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