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Would Arsenal be higher up the league if we had Pep Guardiola instead of Arsène Wenger?

By Tony Attwood
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It is indeed amazing just how quickly a manager can move from being the ultimate superstar, the man Arsenal should have brought in if they really wanted to win the league, to being an also-ran, another silly foreigner who doesn’t really grasp what the Premier League is all about.

Indeed it is interesting to contemplate what Guardiola is doing at Manchester City given a) his track record at Bayern and Barcelona and b) Manchester City’s vast amount of money, plus all the facilities that they now have.

And indeed it is interesting to ask “why?”  As in why has it not worked out immediately.  Because the Great Myth of Football is that Star Man + Money = Success.  “Wenger Out” plus “Spend some ****ing money” (**** inserted to meet the editorial criteria of a famous news accumulator service) will thus bring us success.

Except, the Man City experiment seems to show that Star Man + Money, at the moment at least, equals a little bit less than success.

And if the model of Star Man + Money = success turns out not to be true, then the endless calls for Mr Wenger to leave could so easily lead to the appointment of another Star Man who doesn’t deliver.

With Barcelona PG (as we may call him) won the league three times running.  He then had a year out and with Bayern Munich he won the league three times running.   But we must remember that both leagues have a very limited number of clubs who could possibly challenge for the title, and Bayern’s dominance is so overwhelming in Germany that quite often it makes the league title challenge even more boring than in Spain.

And now it seems that it is getting a little unlikely that he will repeat his trick of always winning the league.     Of course he might need more time – anyone can realise that – but this is football and time is never on the agenda.  PG is the God of Football.  Gods don’t need time.
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Plus at Man City there seems to be even less willingness to give time than at Arsenal.  One only had to look at the way the fans treated Manuel Pellegrini when he bade farewell after the last game to know that this is not a club that does culture or style.

So what has gone wrong.  Why are Man City not utterly dominating the league as they should if Money + Star Manager must mean success (as the aaa always suggest).

Of course you could argue nothing has gone wrong.  It’s just first season hiccups.  You don’t get them in Spain because it is a two team league, nor in Germany because it is in the nation’s constitution that Bayern always win.

Even so the Joe Hart affair seemed a bit like a person out of his depth stamping his foot and saying this is what I want.  The media have talked about the failure to sort out the back four, and the fact that youngsters have not been introduced into the team and that does seem a trifle odd.

At 28 years 1 month the average ago of the first team squad is not the oldest in the league, but only Stoke and WBA have older average ages – and both those only by a fraction.  Caballero is 35, Toure, Bravo and Sagna are all 33, Zabaleta 32, Da Silva, Navas, Nolito, Clichy and Fernandinho are all 31.  Maybe PG heard the phrase “Chelsea Pensioners” and thought it was the English Way.

What’s more while people do talk about Arsenal needing a new left back, with Man City they speak of a left-back, a right-back, and a central defender.   And a goalkeeper to replace Bravo.

Also it is interesting that Manuel Pellegrini was criticised by the “jump on the bandwagon” media for being inflexible tactically, exactly as Mr Wenger and exactly now as Guardiola.  Might it be that an approach that worked in the two team league of Spain and one team league of Germany doesn’t work too well where you have a top six?  That you simply can’t take success with you from those leagues and expect it to happen in England.

Of course when the media turn, they do so on trivia.  Speaking of the failure to convert chances PG apparently said “I would like to know why it keeps happening.”  That is now thrown back at him.  The man is a failure because he doesn’t know why his players don’t score, is the current media line.

But such bloggetta trivia, copied from the mass media, doesn’t help us understand what is going on, although the Guardian will have noted that only one Man City player is in double figures when it comes to scoring (the current ranking being Agüero 18, Iheanacho, Sterling and Nolito six each).  That is indeed dangerous.

Of course it is not surprising that the media is starting to turn en masse – they will always hunt in packs. PG’s rather droll response to questions about whether Fernandinho should have been sent off (“You are the journalist, not me,”) was bound to turn the media against him, because they are never going to admit that they make up reality; that they define what is and what is not true.  Their simplistic vision is that the TV channel never lies.  As we’ve seen, it does all the time.

The simple fact is that two teams in Spain and one team in Germany have been playing and succeeding with the same model for years – a top manager and an endless supply of money to buy the best players in the world.  But they do not have the competition both in terms of buying in players and in terms of having to play competitive matches each week.   If Bayern, Real Mad or Barcelona want a player then, apart from the transfer windows when the latter two are banned for child trafficking offences, they buy him.  In Barcelona’s case, if necessary with a bit of tax fiddling on the side.

Man City can’t do this.  Yes they have the money, of course, but there are two factors working against them.  First they don’t have the heritage that Real Mad, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have.  Their recent finishing positions: 4th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 4th, is very good by Premier League standards but not as good as Barcelona (1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st), not as good as Bayern (3rd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st).

The fact is that a good manager handling Barcelona or Bayern Munich can get the results because of their dominance and their money.  It isn’t like that in the Premier League – there is more competition.  And that is before we even start to consider the influence of the PGMO.

The point is that no manager – even with vast amounts of money and talent at his disposal, can be sure of winning the league in England.  Which is why the calls for change the Arsenal manager are so silly.  Yes, Mr Wenger could have been forced out, but then what?  We could have had Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola.  Just changing managers and bringing in a famous name who has won a lot in Spain or Germany, or come to that Italy, is absolutely no guarantee that things will get better.

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

 

 

41 comments to Would Arsenal be higher up the league if we had Pep Guardiola instead of Arsène Wenger?

  • Leon

    With his CV you might expect Pep to succeed at Arsenal, but then again you wouldn’t expect him to replace one of the best keepers in the PL with one of the worst, and having up to ten very good teams as regular opponents must put a strain on his aging squad.
    I think he would have good here, but no better or worse than Arsene.

  • Rich

    Still think the closest you can get to judging the work of one manager against another is when their spending is very similar, but even that is complicated by how much the squad was worth, how successful it had been, how much spent on it, etc, at the beginning of the period you try judging them against each other. I’d argue this should be mostly restricted to manager’s within the same league.

    A direct comparison between us and Bayern, for instance, would ignore their position of utter dominance within their own market/league, which is a very different one to our own. They can survey their league, full of talented young players, and get nearly any one of them, often at thoroughly reasonable prices.

    The other way to try compare is how a new manager does with the last manager’s team. This also is imperfect, as the game moves on relentlessly, new players come in, etc, and the rival teams are also changing in strength all the while; but it’s a decent guide, especially when most of the players are the same.

    It now seems a guarantee Pep will get to go on a gigantic splurge over the next year, having already spent a lot of money, at a club who have not stopped spending huge amounts of money for getting on for a decade.

    Only the relative strength and wealth of some rival clubs prevents that from guaranteeing PSG style success, but all the same I’d say it makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly how good a manager has been should they secure success.

    Anyway, if you are to try imagine how one manager would do in another’s stead, it needs to be underlined that they would have the same funds to work with as the actual manager does. So, no 250 mill, or whatever it’ll be, for Pep to work with if he were with us, and no saying ‘pay whatever if f***ing takes’ over contract renewals or for new players.

  • Andy Mack

    If he’d replaced Cech and Ospina with Bravo, then we’d be in a far worse position…

    I really hope the situation with Pep makes all the idiots that were shouting how $iteh would win the PL with pep (the greatest coach in the world!), actually use their brains for a change in future when it comes to wanting a new manager. Hopefully they’ll appreciate that a new manager is like a new player, in that only a few of them are successful in their 1st year whilst the majority are only ‘OK’ for the 1st season which is why so few last much longer than a year. Obviously some decent managers are actually really poor in their 1st season so they don’t last long but then succeed elsewhere when they get lucky and inherit both the right playing squad, technical team and business team (board etc).
    Unfortunately the idiots will not remember this, they’ll just blunder along knowing they’re instinctively right without devoting a single moments real thought into their next comment and naming the Tinker Man at the Foxes and Conte at Chavski as their examples.

  • ClockEndRider

    Sky yesterday featured a puff piece by Balague wherein he posited that Guardiola needed more money to spend. Completely ignoring the fact that he had spent in the region of 170m in the summer and was responsible for bringing Bravo and Nolito among others who have really been poor. I’ve always had time for Balague in the past but if he’s just going to act as a mouthpiece for Citeh/ Guardiola press releases, I’m going to have to add him to the list of football journalists to be ignored a la Lawton, Cross, Lawrence and the idiot who wrote about Ozil nicking a living.

  • John L

    Interesting that the “journalists” who equate big spending with “ambition” and success have to find an alternative explanation when this formula does not automatically succeed.
    Therefore, it must be Guardiola’s fault. (he is foreign, after all).

    No doubt they will continue to produce their rubbish. The frustrating thing is that so may people swallow their platitudes.

    No doubt that Guardiola is a good coach, despite his eccentric views about goalkeepers. Unlike Mr. Wenger, he has never transformed an entire club, built a new stadium, invested in youth, laid down foundations for the future and established a sustainable model of business. I am glad we have our manager and I hope that he extends his time with us.

  • Ben

    I might be impressed if Pep or Mourinho can do what Wenger or Lippi has achieved in Asia where you cannot rely on crazy money to achieve number 1.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    It’s hard to say if Arsenal would have been higher up in the table at this stage in the season if Pep Guardiola had been their manager. For, in football, there are no guarantees for success or against failure. Leicester City who won the PL title last season but are now struggling to stay above the relegation zone with the same manager that saw them win the title last season is a testament to the fact that there are no guarantees against failure in the Premier League.

    So no one can say with confidence if Arsenal would have been higher up in the PL table or lower than the 4th position they are currently are if Pep has been managing them up to this time in the current PL season’s campaign.

    Arsenal could be higher up or still be in the 4th position they are currently occupying or be in the 5th position Man City are occupying as of now. Arsenal team, I mean the Gunners are not the same team as the Citizens of Man City. They are different teams or players. But Arsenal style of play has appeared to be in line with the football passing game philosophy of Pep Guardiola. He could find the Gunners at Arsenal easily adopting to his football tiki taka playing philosophy since it’s almost the same style of play Le Prof has put on ground at Arsenal.

    With Pep not having to struggle to change Arsenal style of paying since the style is in conformity with his. And if he can bring in the kind of players he has in mind for his team to strengthened the one he has inherited at Arsenal, there could be likelihood Arsenal might be higher in table than the 4th position they are currently staying.

    I think Pep should realise that he has tried to have seen Man City on 5th position in the table they are now occupying at this stage in the season because it’s not easy for any new manager to come in to change the former style playing of the team he inherited to his own style of playing and expect to get instant result. It can take Pep a little time before he’ll start to get the result he has in mind to get at Man City. I think he has to be patient.

    OT.
    No show for Diego Costa of Chelsea and also for our own Alexis Sanchez anymore as they can’t get that high lucrative contract deals they been after at any Chinese Super Liga club anymore as the China football authorities has effectively shut the door to their faces. Thus stopping them from moving to China at least not this January window as they want. I feel for them missing out on those lucrative deals. And at the same time happy for Arsenal that they can now keep Alexis without the fair of having him poached by any big money bag Chinese super Liga clubside.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I am seeing some errors in my last comment posting after I’ve posted it and read it. But it’s late for me to correct them as I did the posting on my Nokia C3. Henceforth, I think I’ll be using this my Android phone that has my daughters Glo 4G LTE SIM in it to do my comment postings to enable me correct any error in my future comment and repost it. I hope to buy my own 4G LTE SIM as soon as possible when I go out to Glo experience center office at River road, Sabon gari, Zaria.

  • Menace

    Pep Gardiola cannot hold a candle to Wenger. One has had success with teams that were already successful. The other built a dynasty with infrastructure & a squad of players playing beautiful football despite being targeted by select officials.

  • Polo

    I think once ManC change their defensive players example Zabaleta and Ottemendi with better defensive players, and add in another quality mid-fielder (unlucky with Gundogan), the ManC squad will be hard to beat. They already have a very strong attacking line-up and a new striking talent in Gabriel Jesus on his way. I wouldn’t write-off ManC though.

    I personally think AW is a better manager than Pep because AW turn average players into good players and good players into great players, while Pep is good at managing great talents.

  • Andy Mack

    Polo, you’re right but Zabaleta and Ottamendi aren’t bad defenders, the same way Mangala wasn’t a bad defender. Zabaleta (like Sagna and others) is now a bit old for the style of play Pep wants, while Ottamendi and Mangala aren’t good enough to justify the silly money paid for them. They’d be fine in an mid-table team without the expectations that $iteh forced on them by paying through the nose for them.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sometime you’ll only move your ass if you think you’re next and about to get it.
    A sweet tale.

    Joe wanted to buy a motorbike. He doesn’t have much luck until one day,he comes across a Harley with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. The bike seems even better than a new one, although it is 10 years old. It is shiny and in absolute mint condition. He immediately buys it, and asks the seller how he kept it in such great condition for 10 years.

    Well, it’s quite simple, really,” says the seller, “whenever the bike is outside and it’s going to rain, rub Vaseline on the chrome. It protects it the rain.” And he hands Joe a jar of Vaseline.

    That night, his girlfriend, Sandra, invites him over to meet her parents. Naturally, they take the bike there. But just before they enter the house, Sandra stops him and says, “I have to tell you something about my family before we go in. When we eat dinner, we don’t talk. In fact, the first person who says anything during dinner has to do the dishes.”

    ” No problem.” he says.

    And in they go. Joe is shocked. Right smack in the middle of the living room is a huge stack of dirty dishes. In the kitchen is another huge stack of dishes. Piled up on the stairs, in the corridor, everywhere he looks, dirty dishes.

    They sit down to dinner and, sure enough, no one says a word. As dinner progresses, Joe decides to take advantage of the situation. So he leans over and kisses Sandra. No one says a word. So he reaches over and fondles her breasts. Still, nobody says a word. So he stands up, grabs her, rips her clothes off, throws her on the table, and loves her right there, in front of her parents. His girlfriend is a little flustered, her dad is
    obviously livid, and her mom horrified when he sits back down, but no one says a word.

    He looks at her mom. “She’s got a great body,” he thinks. So he grabs the mom, bends her over the dinner table, and has his way with her every which way right there on the dinner table. Now his girlfriend is furious and her dad is boiling, but still, total silence.

    All of a sudden there is a loud clap of thunder, and it starts to rain. Joe remembers his bike, so he pulls out the jar of Vaseline from his pocket.

    Suddenly the father shouts , ” Ok , I’ll do the fucking dishes !”

    ( In other versions of this story , no one says anything ! Just make up the ending depending in which bar or country you are in.)

  • GoingGoingGooner

    AW has had great success building and maintaining a club. The others are by and large good at building teams. Many haven’t been given a chance, though, to do what AW has done. And, as Tony has pointed out, some haven’t been given time to even build a team.

  • Tom

    A peculiar timing for this sort of article Tony. I mean, give the guy at least till the end of the season before passing judgment. He’s only three points off the second place isn’t he.

    Arsenal fans are a weird bunch. The Wenger Out crowd would take almost anyone in his place, with even names like Pulis and Moyes being mentioned at one time or another.
    And the AKB are just as quick to tear other managers down to prove a point.

    Wasn’t there a similar article about Klopp about the same time last year barely three months into his reign, when his Liverpool was exactly in the same place as under Rodgers?
    Guess what? He’s above Arsenal now so I guess it means he’s better than Wenger.

    Leicester won last season with a new manager in charge and Chelsea are on track to the same this term, so I suppose changing managers does guarantee titles.
    See what I did there 🙂

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Lost in translation –

    An Englishman went next door to welcome his new Foreign neighbour. He was shocked to see the man from Foreign Land in his nice backyard chasing ten chickens around like mad.

    “Must be an Foreign custom,” he thought to himself. Deciding he could put off the welcome till a later date, he went home.

    The next day, he decided he was going to welcome the Foreign man again. When he looked through his window, he saw the Foreign man urinate into a cup and drink it.

    “Must be an Foreign custom,” he thought to himself.

    Deciding he could put off the welcome till tomorrow, he went on with other stuff.

    The third day, he was determined he had to welcome the Foreign man. At his gate, he saw the Foreign man with his ear pressed against a cow’s big fat butt.

    He became real angry and went up to the Foreign man. “I’m sorry sir, I want to wish you a welcome,but I cannot stand your crazy Foreign customs!,” he yelled in the Foreign man’s face.

    The Foreign man looked confused and answered. “Sorry sir, I think you are mistaken. These are actually English customs. I was told, to be English, you have to chase chicks, get piss drunk, and listen to bullshit.”

  • Nik

    Well tony thats the biggest pile of crap you have ever posted and you can post some real crackers.Ask yourself this if Pep guardiola had 13 goes at winning the premier league with the squads we have there is a very good chance he would of suceeded at least once.Arsenal will never win the league again under Wenger.He has had his day.And menace your not far behind tony in posting rubbish also!!

  • bill from manhattan

    I said at the beginning of the season that not having mid-week European marches is going to help Klopp and Conte’s teams tremendously. Their players get nore rest between games and the managers have more time to prepare their squads tactically. That being said, let us not pass judgement on no team including our own until the end of the season. there is a lot more football to be played.

  • So Tony, really what your asking is Arsene a better Manager that Pep. Just remind me what Pep has won in his career against what Arsene has won. No brainer comes to mind…

  • Andy Mack

    Tom, I don’t read this as a ‘Pep is crap’ article.
    It’s a ‘The sun doesn’t shine out Peps arse despite some idiots shouting that it does’ article.
    Rather different…

  • Andy Mack

    Klis, It’s not that, however, just remind us how much money Pep has had to spend per year to get his silverware over his managerial career?

  • Andy Mack

    Nik, please tell us what you’d base such a fantasy guess on.

  • para

    He would have done better at Arsenal because we play football like he wants to play, while city does not. PG will have inherited(again) at Arsenal a ready built team playing in his style, he would probably do better than at City.

    Still i am glad that AW is still here, i for one do not want him to go before he has won PL and CL at Arsenal.

    Conte is foreign but they sing his praises, albeit for now.

  • Menace

    Nik – toss a coin & if it lands on heads slap your left cheek.

    You are so clever, you could have been selected for the PGMOL.

  • Nik

    Para well in that case Arsene Wenger will still be getting his 9 million a year for some time to come.He will be a billionaire himself by then.
    And menace i thought you were actually once going to make a post without reference to referees but no its impossible.Your knowledge on the game of football is quite staggering.

  • Let’s see if Pep can make fourth place into a trophy, Arsene has acheived this, probably his greatest feat, reminds me of the children’s fairy tale, the king has got no cloths on…..I opened my eyes and guess what.

  • colario

    ”Let’s see if Pep can make fourth place into a trophy, Arsene has acheived this, probably his greatest feat, reminds me of the children’s fairy tale, the king has got no cloths on…..I opened my eyes and guess what.”

    No guessing. Fact. You still can not see.

  • Andy Mack

    Nik, you’re guessing about a guy that would not have joined us because we didn’t (and possibly still don’t) have the transfer funds available that he wants…
    This doesn’t make him a bad manger, but he’s not a miracle coach either.
    He’s a good coach that was lucky to be managing at the right time with Barca2 and then with Barca, who then made sure he moved to a team with the right squad and finance to plug the gaps he saw. He thought he was doing the same at $iteh but miscalculated (both the squad and the PL competition), however with the finance available to him there is still a decent chance he’ll win the PL in his 3 years there… If not, he may even extend a year or two, to try for it.
    But there is zero proof that he’d have even matched AW for the last 13 years in the situation that AW has been forced to manage.

  • Andy Mack

    Klis, Pep and $iteh owners will be very pleased to get 4th if they’re in 5th before the final game, the same way every other team celebrates when lower than 4th seems likely.
    Make no mistake, we’ve been lucky to be as high as 4th in some years (with the squad we had), but by achieving a CL place, out financial restraints are being relieved much quicker than they would have been if we’d been stuck with Thursday Night football.

  • Nik

    Andy mack
    You posted”Nik, you’re guessing about a guy that would not have joined us because we didn’t (and possibly still don’t) have the transfer funds available that he wants…”
    He didnt join us because our club doesnt share his ambition to be sucessful.The same reason quality players have left us in the past like van persie.They want to win trophys and not be part of a money making business that does just the bare minimum to finish in the top 4 and keep making the owner more money.Stan Kronke and ivan Gazidis are happy with Wenger finishing top 4 and thats why they will no doubt offer him a new contract at the end of the season .No other club that has real ambition would work that way and celebrate mediocrity.Ask yourself why would a club who has 2 of the richest men on the planet as major shareholders not put their hand in their pocket to help the club win the premier league and champions league.Because they want to run it as a profitable business and are not interested in trophys.

  • Fourth place is a trophy.

  • Polo

    This made me laugh:
    ‘Ask yourself why would a club who has 2 of the richest men on the planet as major shareholders not put their hand in their pocket to help the club win the premier league and champions league.’

    Could it because the club wanted to be ‘self sustained’ and not reliant on sugar daddies?

    ‘Because they want to run it as a profitable business and are not interested in trophys.’

    It’s a business so ofcourse they want to be profitable, I prefer them to be profitable than keep making financial losses. Can you explain what happens to clubs or businesses that have poor financials? I assume they don’t last very long.

  • Andy Mack

    Nik, when you grow up you’ll appreciate that your club (assuming you are an Arsenal supporter) is a financially self-sustaining operation and doesn’t rely on a sugar daddy and their whims, like most other adults do.
    But thanks for confirming that you agree Pep wouldn’t have joined us… So your fantasy football team can be managed by your fantasy manager and get you your fantasy results, but in the real world the real team won’t be.

  • Andy Mack

    Klis, It’s a shame you think that… unless you’re Utd fan, then it would make sense.
    The rest of us will only consider it worth getting if something goes wrong and our main targets become unobtainable.
    But if you’re already in that place, good luck.

  • Nik

    Andy
    You would rather our owner take money out of our club like Kronke is with us, than put money in??Rather a strange way to think.

  • Polo

    @ Andy, maybe Nik is right, maybe Roman and Sheik Mansour won’t take a penny out and will donate the billions they put into their club when they leave. What’s the probability of that happening I wonder?

  • Andy Mack

    Nik, firstly the owner has possibly taken a tiny amount of money (compared to the earnings he’d expect from a genuine investment) although there is some possibility it’s been earned through some services.
    Secondly Yes I’d far rather they get some money than give money that we’d rely on. History has shown us what happens when a sugar daddy leaves a club (too many clubs to name but Blackburn is always top of the list for me). So far Kroenke is earning far less money from our club than he would by keeping his money in the best ‘saving account’ he could get. His profit will be when he sells.
    If the Russian or Arab money runs away (they’re both in slightly awkward political situations where it could happen) or Roman has a heart attack (or other terminal health problems) and decides he doesn’t want to be involved in Football, their clubs become unstable. We’ve seem what happens with clubs that survive these problems and the best one seems to be Villa who only got demoted to the Championship so far.

    Polo, they’ll both want to sell like the Villa guy and maybe they’ll sell to a decent new owner, but the risk of doing a ‘Fulham’ is far to great… Unfortunately some don’t seem to understand the potential problems of being a rich mans toy…

  • Nik

    Polo
    I think its highly likely that roman and the sheikh wont take any money out of their respective clubs.They havent done yet unlike our owner who has.And Andy there is no possibly about it he has taken that money out on 2 occasions.Why would you do that if you are a billionaire.I would rather trust Chelsea and man citys owners than our own who has a track record in the US with his clubs of not being a very good owner and has scant disregard for their fans.Himself Wenger and Gazidis are the ones who are making the big bucks whilst the fans suffer.

  • Tai

    Great article Tony.

    For once I’m tempted to wish we miss top 4…that some fans may appreciate the value.

    However, I still rate Pep. He’s only having a tough time. Only natural. He might have had the best team ever in Barca but then he played the best brand of football ever. Not even Brazil with Pele came close.

    By the time he reshuffles in the summer he’ll get going. And speaking about reshuffling he may need as many as six new regulars. Perhaps only Aguero, Silver, De Bryune are guaranteed.

  • Tai

    BG…I salute.

  • Top Guns

    Tai – what value is there of finishing in the top 4?
    There is actually no trophy for this you know….

    Back to the Pep debate – if he is no good then how did Manchester City beat us last month?

  • Top Guns

    Klis – please explain why 4th place is a trophy.
    It is NOT, never has been and never will be.

    You are talking about the Arsenal which is a club that has a proud and long history of winning silverware. Your comment is an insult to the club

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