Arsenal lost 2-0 to Newcastle tonight and as much as I’d like to comment on the match itself, I stopped watching when Cedric came on for Tomiyasu. I went on YouTube and watched Japanese pottery videos instead. I looked up a couple times: both times when they scored and a few other moments, but for the majority of the match I just didn’t watch. And from the sound of it, I didn’t miss anything.
I have also heard from a lot of supporters that they are “gutted” or “devastated” not just from the match but the lackluster performance. I’m neither of those things. For this match, once I saw the teamsheet and lineup I knew we were in trouble. We had no real backups for defense (just Cedric and a 21 year old named Zak Swanson who’s never played a minute for the senior team) and the starters were both injured (or at least not 100%). Calum Wilson said after the match that when he saw the teamsheet he was “licking his lips” and I can totally understand why.
But the reason I’m not upset is that I’ve said all season that 5th place would be an achievement for this team. If you told me that they would get 5th place and maybe even 4th place (it’s still possible) I would have taken it in a minute. And if you told me that we would be the 4th best team in England after dropping him and then paying Auba to play for Barcelona I wouldn’t have believed it.
I was very down on this team in December and for good reason: two years into the Arteta experiment we were still playing some awful football. On December 7th Arsenal were 7th in the League, with a record of 7-2-6 and a goal difference of -4. We were averaging just over 1 goal scored per game. It was terrible.
But since then we’ve gotten 43 points in 22 matches with a +13 goal difference. And we’ve played good football for large portions of that time as well. Though we have lost 7 matches in that time, and 5 in the last 10 matches. The big thing that was clearly missing was a goal-scoring forward, just someone who could get those goals which would have turned some of those losses into draws.
And I’m also not that upset that we probably won’t finish 4th this season because I can see that if we get a forward (which we were definitely trying to do) I think we will be a lot better next season. That doesn’t mean that we can rest on our hind quarters this summer, on the contrary, we have a ton of work to do, but hopefully we can get the business done and improve the team.
What business specifically? Well, obviously one or two forwards, an upgrade on Xhaka, reliable backups for Tierney and Tomiyasu, bionic legs for Tierney and Tomiyasu, and I think we need a backup keeper (unless you believe Okonkwo is the real deal).
One thing, however, that is bugging me is that next year I’m worried that the competition for 4th is going to be even more stiff. Man U will bounce back. Man City and Liverpool are still going to be tough. And even though I think Chelsea is an unknown, if they can get an owner in, they are still a very good team. Add to that the fact that Newcastle is going to be competing with Arsenal for the same players this summer (but with a lot more money) and they are also going to be a very competitive team next year. Plus, we are going to be playing twice a week next season: Thursday and Sunday/Monday.
Funnily enough, Arsenal could still finish 4th. We would need to win on the last day and for Spurs to Spurs this up even more than we have Spursed it up ourselves.