At the Emirates yesterday, Chelsea played Arsenal. A lot of observers suggested that the neutral would be right behind the Gunners against the apparently dreary and boring side from Stamford Bridge. That did not apply to this particular neutral.
There are those who criticise Newcastle United for perpetually failing to be in anyway ambitious other than retaining their status in the Premier League. For a club of the passionate fanbase of the city their remarkable lack of trophies and anything approaching potential to challenge for a regular top 8 place is frustrating. What cannot be denied, though, is that those running the club have by one way or the other stumbled upon the way to meet their minimum objective. That sucks if you believe the game is about winning.
What’s the real difference, though, between Newcastle United and Arsenal? A club the size of Arsenal and the infrastructure for consistent success sees a regular target of achieving Champions League qualification and has consistently met that target. Is that really something worth boasting to children and grandchildren about? In another season that saw rivals dip out of form and an opportunity to seal their credentials as proper contenders for the titles that matter, what have Arsenal done?
This game against Chelsea may not have necessarily changed the course of the Premier League title, but it would have certainly made a statement that this wasn’t another Arsenal side that flattered to deceive. While others refer to parking buses and the usual boring thing with Chelsea, there’s little in the way of addressing again why Arsenal have failed again to show anything like the qualities to be Premier League champions. You can build the squad, you have the resources, the stadia and the reputation – why can’t that be converted into a title fight to the end? Why can’t that be seen in a promising run in the Champions League?
Meanwhile Mourinho has managed to get a top squad playing closer to their potential and on the brink of sealing that with two trophies – one of which is a main one – this season. The way you play might be nostalgic and wistful and get you all excited about the beautiful game. Yet it doesn’t mean anything if at the end of the season you end up with little to show for it.
Retaining the FA Cup is not a sloppy achievement, it’s not insignificant if they manage to do it. This is Arsenal, though. This is Arsenal who were challenging for the Premier League title .. ten years ago. This is Arsenal who made it to the Champions League final … ten years ago. Is this good enough for Arsenal … ten years on? Seriously?
C. L. J. Dryden