Is 4th Place Good Enough?
Football is a funny old game, as one famous footballer once said (more than once). Sunday afternoon at 4.40pm we were facing football disaster, Aston Villa were cruising to a 2-0 win over Stoke and with that an 8-point lead over us. A small glimmer of hope emerged as Villa collapsed Devon Loch style and drew with Stoke City. We were not out of the woods yet, we had to beat WBA to put pressure on Villa.
We did that, no surprises there, West Brom. are defensively a shambles, but a job still had to be done. Aston Villa then travelled to Man City last night and the nerves were getting to Villa as they lost for the first time in league away from home since November. The lead is now three points and our next two games are both before Villa play theirs, so the pressure will be on Villa so long as we win our games.
Finishing 4th is essential for the development and future of our club. It means Champions League football, with that comes money and the ability to attract top players to the club. Players and fans will greet qualifying for Champions League football as success this season. However, another 4th place finish, our 3rd in four seasons is merely papering over the cracks, the gaping cracks that exist at our club. Not all that long ago we finished 1st or 2nd every season, Wenger was smug enough to say that finishing 3rd or 4th is not qualifying for Champions League, how times have changed.
We do not need to sell the likes of Bendtner, Song or Denilson, just realise these are still young players and playing week in week out in the Premier League will inevitably lead to loss of form. These players should be able to come in for others and play (including substitute appearances) in say 20 league games a season. These are our squad players, the equivalent of Park, Fletcher, and O’Shea, not first team regulars.
A fourth place finish is acceptable in the short term, but the board must realise that 4th place is the minimum a club like Arsenal should be aiming for. Funds need to be made available, and I mean real funds, not just hollow statements from the board stating that Arsene can have any player he wishes, when in reality he has been told he can only spend what he raises in transfer sales.
We need to change tactics and bring in players that will ensure that we challenge for the title, players that will bring in silverware. One injury to our main player, Fabregas has exposed the dearth of talent and creativity at the club. The addition of Arshavin is a move in the right direction, but we cannot afford to go through another summer and not strengthen our squad with quality players.