Arsenal fans are a bit sick and tired of being on the back pages it seems. This morning’s Football365 mailbox page publishes a missive from Gary (from Ireland – shocker) lamenting the number of letters being published that relate to the Arsenal circus in the last week.
The current state of play is that Gael Clichy (who wasn’t good enough according to Arsenal fans – probably fair comment) has gone to Manchester City, Cesc Fabregas is probably on his way to Barcelona shortly and Samir Nasri is on the open market with just 12 months of his contract remaining.
Meanwhile, as if to rub salt in the wounds, lots of deadwood (purchased, it should be pointed out, by the manager many fans are defending) remains. No one seems to want to pay £10m+ for Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson is not
moving to AC Milan, Tomáš Rosický wants to stay at Arsenal and “achieve something” (a shot on target?), Sébastien Squillaci is not very good, Andrei Arshavin’s 15 minutes are up and Emmanuel Eboué….well, I got nothing.
Every squad has players who are out of form or just haven’t made the level. Arsenal are no different and perhaps listing the underachievers above like that gives the impression that Arsenal are some sort rubbish tip for sub-standard players. They’re not. They showed last season that, when on form, they are a match for anyone.
But they are undermined by problems in defence, problems caused by their esteemed manager who has neglected the goalkeeper and back four for too long. Sure, they’ve been unfortunate with injuries but when you’re in the Champions League every year and have one of the biggest grounds in the United Kingdom, you should be able to reinforce your squad with enough quality players to get through all but the worst crisis.
Yet even if Nasri and Fabregas leave, Arsenal should still be able to compete for the title. Fabregas was disappointing last season and Nasri went off the boil after Christmas. In my view their star players are still there – Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere and Robin van Persie. While the transfer sagas rumble on in the background, maybe this should be the alternative narrative, something that a journalist with a little conviction can push on a jaded Arsenal fan base.
But at the same time I’m not sure Arsenal fans can complain that the fact a quarter of their first team wants to leave is such big news. Seven years ago the media was full of effusive praise for ‘The Invincibles”, the Arsenal side that went 49 games unbeaten over 2003 and 2004. The thought was that this team would go on to dominate the Premier League and the fans rode this wave of optimism with the same belief.
Yet within a couple of seasons their key players (Thierry Henry, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira) had moved on and Arsenal have now gone six full seasons without a trophy. How many Arsenal fans wrote to Football365.com to say they were sick of reading the positive wall-to-wall coverage about their record-breaking team? How many pointed out that, in fact, the media were over-reacting and that the likelihood was that the club would only win an FA Cup between now and 2011?
Probably somewhere about ‘none’. Suck it up Arsenal fans and enjoy what will probably be another competitive season.