By Tony Attwood
“The time for excuses is over”.
So runs the opening of the Guardian’s preview of Arsenal’s season to come, in which they boldly predict that this season Arsenal will finish … sixth.
There is fun had in the article at the expense of Ivan Gazidis for thinking that the days of the billionaires ploughing money into clubs and lying to the media, Uefa, the league and anyone else who was passing were over – it was a good thought, but it was not to be. But still, Chelsea have been banned from transfers, and Manchester City under scrutiny from Uefa. It is slow but there is some progress.
So the Guardian tells us that the club is, if not “lurching backwards” not actually “moving forwards” while “there is as much to concern” at Arsenal about “the forms of Leicester, Wolves and Everton narrowing the gap below.” They also comment that “Excuses have become a staple in their part of north London,” although they don’t tell us what excuses they think the club have made.
Methinks this might have been written by a member of the notorious Arsenal Supporters Trust.
And I think maybe the author has not actually looked at last season’s table:
Now I know my maths is often rather dodgy but we were 18 points above Leicester, 16 points above Everton and 13 points above Wolverhampton Wobbleyou last season. Those are big gaps.
And there is the tendency that we noted last in our piece in June, for clubs to move very little in terms of places in the league from one season to the next. Here’s the table we came up with before…
|Pos||Team||2017/18||Difference to 2018/19|
|10||West Ham United||13||+3|
- Three teams as we can see stayed in the same position as last year: Everton, Leicester and Man City.
- Four teams changed by just one position: Tottenham, Arsenal, Palace, Southampton.
- Four teams changed by two positions: Liverpool, Chelsea, Bournemouth, Brighton.
So a drop for Arsenal to below Leicester, Everton or Wolverhampton would be very unusual. Not impossible, but unusual. Manchester United had just such a drop via changing their manager. Otherwise it seems unlikely.
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Noticeably the Guardian piece make no comment on the alleged, but totally fanciful, £40m budget. If you missed it you might want to go back and see our review of how that nonsense all came about, and who was responsible for it. But they have not been shy of criticising the club all summer as with talk of the “combined statement on behalf of 14 separate supporter groups” – which of course did not and do not exist. It was a couple of supporters’ groups – who have been anti-Arsenal management and board for years, and a bunch of blogs.
To be fair to the paper, they have not gone overboard on the fanciful £45m budget story that made AST look like chumps, but the Guardian argues that even with Pepe “further changes are required”.
Then of course there is the obligatory paragraph on Koscielny – apparently it could be “a reflection on the club’s management in recent years, that he felt moved to skip the trip across the Atlantic.” Although notably the article does not explain why this is a reflection on the club’s management, rather than on Koscielny’s own priorities and/or the rather eccentric negotiation techniques of his agent. It “could be”, I guess, in the way that global warming could be caused by Tottenham fans getting excited about their new stadium.