Published: 2022-01-10 By: The Guru
It seems a long time ago that Arsenal fielded a squad of Invincibles and claimed the Premier League title without suffering a single loss. Nowadays, the time is vying to return to the rank of title contenders, but what are the long term goals and chances of the club achieving them under Mikel Arteta?
Arsenal has a proud, and very long, footballing tradition, with the team founded way back in 1886 by munitions workers of the Royal Arsenal. During its long time, it’s had plenty of ups and downs, with the most recent high point being Arsene Wenger’s prolonged tenure, during which Arsenal achieved the very rare feat of a season that saw not a single loss. The only domestic objective for the team has to be winning the English Premier League, and regularly appearing in the top four.
Internationally, winning the Champions League certainly would not go down badly, but that would follow EPL success rather than precede it. So the focus has to be tilting for the title and, if not achieving the trophy, getting close enough for genuine hope and a place in the Champions League. But are they worth betting on?
Title bets and other long term markets (including specials) can be a great way for the patient to take advantage of their insight and stand a chance of making a tidy profit. Do note that if you’re tying up money for a long time (say, betting on Arsenal to win a title before 2026) to take account of inflation when locking your money up. The upside of longer-term bets is that you can often get appealing odds. At the time of writing, Arsenal are currently fourth in the table but 12 points off the lead (and with multiple games in hand over comparable teams due to the pandemic disrupting schedules). While the 150/1 on the team to win the title might look nice based on their table standing, the games in hand do make it something of a mirage. It’s not impossible (Leicester’s 5,000/1 title prove that) but very unlikely.
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Money makes the world go around, and that’s certainly true in football as the world awaits to see what the stupendously wealthy, if controversial, owners of Newcastle United can do for the club. During the 2021 transfer window Arsenal splashed some £140m in cash, although Tim Sherwood has criticised the team (and their local rivals Spurs) for focusing on average foreign players over homegrown recruitment via academy schemes.
Arsenal is, of course, far from poor, and is considered by the Deloitte Football Money League to be 11th on the global list of clubs by revenue. The problem Arsenal faces is that many of the richest clubs in the world are its rivals, so any transfer strategy is going to have to be smart otherwise they’ll just be outgunned (not least by the aforementioned Magpies, whose new owners are reportedly worth around £320bn). This is an area where Arteta needs to sharpen up his game. It’s not just a question of improving the existing team but stopping current talent from leaving. After all, would Harry Kane stay at Spurs if things take a downturn?
Arsenal’s recent lacklustre performances are due in significant part to being unable to maintain generally winning ways not only against top four sides, but against the top six. While this does mean there’s no risk of relegation, and the accompany stress for supporters that goes along with that, it also means there’s no chance of making it through to the top tier until this performance deficit changes. Better players through canny transfers and academy graduations matter, but so do aspects such as formation, motivation, and the general psychology of a club. Arsenal know they have a weak spot here, and so do the teams they’re trying to beat. The club has actually been scoring well (even against good opposition) but that doesn’t matter if the defence is leaking like a sieve.
This can be turned around, however. Just look at what Gareth Southgate has done for England. From perennial under-achievers, they’re somehow not merely turned a corner but become the most consistent national side at major competitions in recent years (and are now, on merit, one of the top four favourites for the 2022 World Cup). Unfortunately for Arteta, sometimes a change in belief requires (either in reality or as a placebo) a new manager, and it’s possible that he may be thrown overboard before this necessary change in mindset occurs.
Yes, in a word. They benefit from great heritage, a loyal and large fanbase, and a solid foundation upon which to build. The problem Arteta faces is that managers in the EPL do not hang around for long when success is missing (when Wenger finally left the club he had more experience at his side than every other Premiership manager combined).
The glory days of Wenger’s Invincibles are distant, but as Liverpool has shown, past victories can be reclaimed. Arsenal have a great chance of returning to the top in the long run.
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