Next season is shaping up nicely for the neutral – Pep Guardiola is joining Manchester City, Jose Mourinho has been confirmed as Manchester United manager, Chelsea will appoint Antonio Conte in due course and Liverpool will have Jürgen Klopp starting his first full season. Tottenham will be encouraged by their impressive season with their young guns and on top of that, the chasing pack of Everton, West Ham United and Southampton also have cause for optimism.
Unfortunately for Arsenal though, this is bad news.
Other teams are strengthening, improving their management staff and recruiting top class players, whereas Arsenal are as usually staying still. After another Top Four finish in the bag for the 17th season in a row, we look no closer to winning the league than we have in the last 10 years.
Last season was the best chance we had to win the Premier League and we bottled it. We bottle it time and time again and it doesn’t matter which players we bring in – the mentality of the team and the staff is all wrong. Essentially, failure is acceptable and there are no strong personalities or leaders in the team. Where are the Tony Adams’ and Patrick Vieira’s?
The problem is all of our players (with a couple of exceptions) are too nice. There’s no fight, passion or even nastiness in the team. Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Gilberto, Sol Campbell, Jens Lehmann, Lauren, Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Ray Parlour, Martin Keown et al were all fighters and more importantly winners. They played pyrotechnic football which was thrilling to watch yet they understood that the main thing was to win. They term “winning ugly” is thrown around far too much but to me winning a battle of a match is beautiful to see. Grinding out a 1-0 win is nothing to be ashamed about – unless you’re Arsene Wenger of course.
With the Premier League getting stronger next season Arsenal have missed their chance and failing to win the title last season could be one of the most costly things to happen in the Arsene Wenger reign. A title win would have been something to build on but now Manchester United and Chelsea who both finished outside the Top Four will not just be Top Four candidates but genuine title contenders. Manchester United will splash the cash (you can be sure it was written in Mourinho’s contract that money must be spent) and Chelsea will throw money at changing their fortunes. Tottenham will be stronger than last season and you have Pep Guardiola as the boss of a team who aren’t short of money and more importantly not shy of spending big.
If you asked me now how the top half of the table would look at the end of next season, my early prediction based on events so far would be:
1. Manchester United
2. Manchester City
4. Tottenham Hotspur
7. Leicester City
9. West Ham United
Look at those 10 teams – the top half of the table has teams which are extremely strong and essentially, Arsenal will be fighting an uphill battle next season.
Winning the title next season is probably about 10 times harder than it would have been last season, and potentially things could go very, very wrong next year.