It may pain Arsenal fans to hear it, but they can no longer be considered to be contenders for the Premier League. Since their last title in in 2004, when they went the entire season unbeaten, they have managed only a couple of sustained championship challenges. Last season they were pleased to finish above neighbours Tottenham in third place. With the top of the table evolving and the chasing pack strengthening at the start of new eras, the league’s number one selling club are at it again.
Have your say on PlayUp, the leading mobile social network for live sports and get connected with like-minded fans around the world in the PlayUp mobile App. Follow all the games live during Euro 2012 and get involved with the banter. Download the iPhone and Android App today or visit www.playup.com to play games and for more information.
After Robin Van Persie’s revelation that he is not going to renew his contract, it seems inevitable that his departure is imminent. There can be little doubt that were it not for Van Persie, Arsenal would have struggled to qualify for the Europa League last season, let alone the lucrative Champions League. Die-hard Gunners will point to the early signings of Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud as a signal of intent, but this would only have been a positive if they were joining the Dutchman, not replacing him.
Little is known of Giroud, aside from the keenest of European football watchers, but history suggests that young players coming over from France can succeed in the Premier League. Didier Drogba made an immediate impact when he arrived at Chelsea from Marseille, while Arsene Wenger got the best out of Nicolas Anelka after he signed from Paris St. Germain. There should be warning signs out there however, with the likes of Gabriel Obertan struggling to make an impact at Manchester United. It is unlikely that we will see the best of Giroud until next season at least.
At 27, Podolski is by no means an up-and-comer, and in fact should be coming into his prime. Wenger will be hoping that the German striker can recover from an underwhelming display at Euro 2012, when his fitness was called into question, to continue his goal scoring form that saw him hit 18 goals in the Bundesliga last season despite Koln’s relegation from the top flight. Podolski has scored 40 international goals, but struggled to make an impact after a move to Bayern Munich. If he is a player that thrives on being the main man in a struggling club, then he could have gone to the right place.
The truth for Arsenal is that they must prepare for at two or three more lean years. The likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud have unique potential, but to expect them to carry a title charge is foolish.
This isn’t 1995. When Manchester United won the league with kids, they had only a Blackburn side that had peaked and a defensively naïve Newcastle to beat. If Arsenal were to triumph this season, they would have to surmount and overcome the traditional powerhouse of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United, the new money Premier League champions Manchester City, who could well be the owners of a shiny new RVP, as well as a Chelsea side buoyed by a Champions League triumph and the potential signings of Eden Hazard and Hulk.
After losing Thierry Henry, Arsenal could argue that they had got the best years out of him. When Cesc Fabregas left, they put it down to his underlying ambition to rejoin Barcelona. The trouble with the Van Persie departure is that the only logical reason for it is a desire to win a trophy, something that Wenger and Arsenal just couldn’t offer. It is time for the fans to realise that as much as the club try to sugarcoat it, the era of Arsenal as contenders is well and truly over.
PlayUp is the leading mobile social network for live sports, cover 23,000 live games across nine sports. Keep up-to-date with your favourite sport at www.playup.com/blog/uk/ or for more information, to play games or download the App visit www.playup.com