Us and Them

The differences between Arsenal and the clubs above us are quite clear this season. Aside from the financial restraints we’ve had to work around, there are several other reasons why they’ve left us watching an intriguing battle for the title. We should not ignore those factors.

Yes, they are both despicable but no matter how much we hate any other club, we must give credit where it is due (except to Spurs, fuck them). We must also bridge the gap between ourselves and those clubs. These trophyless seasons are becoming the proverbial albatross around Arsene’s neck, but at least he has stated quite clearly that we haven’t been able to compete financially for “the players we need”. Whether that is the only reason we haven’t bought better players is arguable. Even in the best of times, Arsene has been known to spend wisely.

I am happy that he didn’t give the English press the benefit of that quote. Why should he have? A dunce like Phil Brown gets a pass for public humiliation of grown men. He has dragged down an entire club while making a mockery of top flight football management. Meanwhile, our manager is under the microscope for everything he does.

Our financial situation has also been under the microscope but nobody except Arsenal know how much cash the club really has. Depending on who you believe, our transfer funds are anywhere from nothing at all to 80m. I long for the day when we don’t have to settle for thrift shop specials.

Just a few weeks ago, we were in a good position to defy the odds and chase down Chelsea. They’ve wobbled, but they haven’t fallen. John Terry has been anything but steady or reliable this season, yet they’ve managed to stay on course. Witness the demolition of Stoke City after losing to Scum. And they must be given credit – Drogba’s offsides goal notwithstanding – for going to Old Trafford and beating United a few weeks ago.

Wayne Rooney was always going to remind people that he is just as good as the departed winger Ronaldo. Let’s be clear, the PFA Player of the Year deferred to Ronaldo at Ferguson’s behest. It is when England’s best player has been injured that we’ve seen yet another difference between Arsenal and the club that is regarded as the most valuable in the world, despite its enormous debt. If winning at Eastlands wasn’t enough, then last Saturday’s victory against Scum reminded me that we still have gaps to fill.

It is a painful exercise but it must be done. We must accept the differences and set about fixing them. It’s the only way forward.

What really stands out as we wind down this season is how the fire that once burned so strongly has died so quickly. Of course, the two clowns we call goalkeepers have done their best to undermine our efforts but we just seem to go down without a fight. The same happened in that infamous CL semi-final last season. I imagine it could be said that our dramatic come from behind victories in last few months were misleading. Frankly, we were struggling to beat teams that Chelsea and United have beaten convincingly.

It cannot be overstated that we need to address the keeper situation. No more bargain buys for a position that is crucial to any success. The 6m spent on Richard Wright is still the most Wenger has spent on a keeper.

Keep the Faith. Maybe that will change soon.

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