A few musngs ahead of this weekend’s match!
I am not going to dwell on the media’s absurd fascination with Arsenal’s failure this season although failure it is. I will just point out that in relative terms to Wenger I think Manual Pellegrini has come of very lightly. This is probably been due to the unceremonious nature of his advanced dismissal and the announcement that he was to be replaced by Guardiola. However in August Arsenal would have been cast as one of a few teams that ‘could’ with a fair wind, threaten the stranglehold of City and Chelsea. No one truly believed we had a chance, even us after we failed to add any outfield players.
Man City on the other hand with the amount of money they spent and the perceived quality of their additions, were ‘Champions Elect.’ After the first few games of win after win in September and Chelsea’s sluggish start the press had crowned them. Now as we approach what is a crucial match on Sunday at the Etihad the backdrop seems very different. Arsenal’s season has been written off as an abject disaster whilst City have some silverware and gloriously went out in the Semi Final of the Champions League.
We can argue the relative success of failure of both team’s seasons all day. Largely it will depend on your views on Arsene Wenger as much as anything but a fans perspective the Blue side of Manchester have something shiny and new to look forward to and Gunners do not. For those lucky enough to be going to Manchester the need is there more than ever to be in good voice because for many reasons it has become a winner takes all match.
A win for Arsenal will secure 3rd spot and even make second a possibility dependent on how a shell-shocked Tottenham fare against Southampton. Both teams at the Etihad will know the result as The Saints visit The Lane at 1.30 on Sunday. A win for City takes the season for both teams to the final day but would need Arsenal to have to score a bucket load of goal to better a goal difference that is currently 3 in City’s favour already. Anything could happen but for Arsenal a draw with a demoralised Villa to play would almost certainly secure 3rd place but all the bets and possibilities are fascinating.
Yes it is depressing to be talking about the third placed trophy and I am not writing this excited at the prospect BUT this year more than any other the significance if avoiding the Champions League qualifier is critical. With the Euros taking up much of June and July and it being potentially Arsene Wenger’s final season the club have to be able to move swiftly and decisively ahead of the Euros in the transfer market secure in the knowledge that they are offering possible signings top table football.
With Arsenal not having an effective Director of Football and Dick Law seemingly having to get everything signed off by his controlling manager time is more of the essence for us. I sense for the first time that there is pressure from the board on the Frenchman to spend some of the cash sitting earning interest. This is something that has not necessarily been there in the past but Wenger himself has patently lost patience with some of the players he has stuck by for too long. He may have described the strength of this squad favourably and lauded their mentality but his selections, body language and lengthening nose suggest different.
I am convinced this will be the most active summer for the club in years with many first team regulars until recently being surplus to requirements, including some surprise exits. Most will say this would be un-Wenger like and yes it would be but he and the board have to be acutely aware of the strength of the other giants who have had worse seasons than Arsenal. New managers arriving and big war chests exist and Arsenal’s activity in early June could determine 2016/17’s outcome.
Many seem to have decided that Pep and Conte (at the Euros withy Italy,) will wave magic wands over their aging squads but I am far from convinced their jobs are that easy. Both City and Chelsea need 4 or 5 first team players which perhaps Arsenal do not. The rise of Mo Elneny cannot be underestimated and with one more addition the central midfield options look very strong. The key for Wenger and Law seems to me to be to find the 2 remaining members of the spine, namely a mobile top notch striker and a partner for Koscielny. The Gunners need 3 key additions but others need more.
Well that is enough of my rambling thoughts for today. Sunday is huge and as billed the battle of the losers where winner takes all. One final controversial thought from me….
In a season where City have seen that big bucks can but a gem like KDB or a liability like Sterling how interesting that when it came down to it on the Premier League run in Pellegrini turned to Samir Nasri. In only 11 appearances in the league only 4 of them starts in the latter stages the unpopular Ex-Gunner has 2 goals and 2 assists from some impressive displays. In 30 appearances Sterling has 6 goals but for a creative wide man on 2 assist which is scant early return on £46 million. If Guardiola really want does to take The Walcott at 27 to Manchester I wonder how many Arsenal fans would take back Samir Nasri at 29 this summer with 2/3 good years and a wiser head on him in part exchange? It was rumoured last summer that The played had asked Wenger about a return.