Okay, yes, Arsenal have blown up. Going into the final matches of the fight for the fourth, a scrap that the Gunners have made their favorites for so long, Arsenal suffered two catastrophic knockouts. The first push came last Thursday, when Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby. Monday gave Arsenal a chance to free themselves in the form of Newcastle United, but instead of defeating former relegation-threatened Magpies and regaining their place in the Champions League final spot, the Gunners surrendered again at another disappointing rate. Now, with the exception of an unexpected sequence of events — a terrific season-end for Tottenham, a loss to already exiled Norwich City and Arsenal’s win over Everton — Arsenal could say goodbye to their Champions League dream. It certainly qualifies as a defeat.
But is the situation at Arsenal really that bad বা or even “bad”? According to some scholars, this is actually a disaster. There are some pundits who seem to take special pleasure when it comes to crushing Arsenal after disappointing results. You can usually identify them by listening to the sentence, “But it is Arsenal football club“The full name of the club is such that angry parents want to tell their children who have just brought home a report card full of consonants. Rebecca Lowe, who usually played a surprisingly tough role on NBC Sports’ Newcastle-Arsenal postgame show, tried to persuade seemingly collaborating commentators Tim Howard and Danny Higginsbotham to hire Arsenal manager Michael Arteta. Fortunately, both Howard and Higginsbotham resisted, and although they acknowledged how frustrating the last two games were – and especially how strangely risky Arsenal were in a match against Newcastle – they were able to keep everything in perspective.
And from that perspective: Arsenal have had a great season. Coming to the campaign, no one expected the Gunners to fight so admirably for fourth place. In addition to the big three at Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, who have always been vying for three places in the Champions League, clubs such as Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City have entered the season with strong claims to the last UCL spot. And yet against more experienced, more financially capitalized, and reasonably only more talented competitors, Arsenal have surpassed them almost the entire season and the youngest squad in the entire league.
Even in Arsenal’s own ambitious timeline, this season’s top-four finishes have probably not been considered a particularly realistic goal. Instead, the more intelligent tasks for the team this year were to create an incredibly young, terribly talented squad, establish a game identity and re-establish Arsenal as a team that plays well and can compete with anyone any day. New player acquisitions in the player development and future transfer window could again create a roster that can be expected to set its outlook for the top spot in the league table. Artes Arsenal have done everything and much more. Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegard, Emil Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Aaron Ramsdale, Gabriel Magalheis, Ben White, Kieran Tierney — they’ve all improved this year, almost everyone looks like a star in the making, and none of them are 25 years old. When everyone was healthy, the artefact formed 4-3-3, its grip-heavy but still vertical attack, and its committed (albeit only occasional practice) high press for the perfect system to increase, improve and add points to all these talents. Was made in a dazzling clip. However, Arsenal have made great strides this season. So slamming them for coming up short in such a race is more than a little foolish that they didn’t even expect to be in first place.
Still, losing the last two matches has the horrible bitter consequences that could so easily be a real win for a campaign. It was fair and even better for Granit Zacker to say after the Newcastle match, “What happened was a catastrophic performance and as such you are not fit to play in the Champions League, you are not even fit to play in the Europa League.” Xhaka, a locker room leader and one of the few beginners who, at the age of 29, the prime of his career, could be a little tougher, as his position makes him a player who is there to help the team learn and grow to win titles or even games. More than winning, the key to football, what fans and players and coaches are really looking for is progress. That today is better than yesterday, and the right things are happening to make tomorrow better. Arsenal’s season has been a resounding success in terms of progress, and the only real setback from two defeats against two good teams is if Arsenal don’t take that frustration and learn from it the next time. Because the way things are looking now, next time will definitely be.