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Are Arsenal being disrespected by the mainstream media?


It’s no secret that Arsenal had a massively disappointing end to the 2018/19 campaign. Failing to win in four of their last five league games saw them miss out on Champions League qualification and a dismal Europa League final performance in Baku meant that they blew their second chance at taking part in Europe’s top competition this season. Despite this horrendous end to the season, Arsenal were still only one point behind Tottenham in fourth and two points behind Chelsea in third in the Premier League.

So, when you consider that Arsenal only missed out by a single point and how many points Arsenal dropped late in the season along with the improvements made to the squad in the transfer window, why is it that Arsenal are treated as almost an after thought when it comes to finishing in the top four in this season? Many pundits and experts actually tipped Arsenal to drop out of the top six prior to the start of the season, believing that the likes of Leicester or Everton could potentially pip them to a European spot.

Let’s assume, for the sake of this article that Manchester City and Liverpool will definitely be the top two again this year and take a look at Arsenal’s chances when compared to their rivals for Champions League qualification in Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Tottenham are the unquestioned darling of English football and have been for the last number of years. Not only are they viewed as a certainty to finish in the top four but they are seen by many as title challengers. Having not won a trophy in this decade and finishing 28 points behind Manchester City in the last campaign, why are they held in such high regard by the media?

I’m not going to go into any conspiracy theories or talk about agendas but it is strange how differently Tottenham are looked upon compared to the teams around them. Jose Mourinho, Gary Neville, and others have all tipped Spurs to push Liverpool and Manchester City close this season.

They possess quality in their squad but there are, however, huge question marks surrounding them which largely seem to be ignored. When compared to Arsenal, Spurs have been the better side for the last few years. The gap between the two however, in my opinion, is not what is made out to be. A single point separated the two teams in 2018/19 and I believe Arsenal have made bigger improvements in the transfer window.

The biggest questions surrounding Tottenham are the future of Christian Eriksen and their strength. Spurs have taken strides to address this in midfield with the signings of Tanguy N’Dombele and Giovanni Lo Celso, both of which will add quality to the squad but Harry Kane remains the only out and out striker in their ranks. Son Heung-Min deputised incredibly well last season when Kane missed time due to injury but he is a natural wide man rather than a number nine. Should Kane miss time again this year, like he has consistently in recent years then Spurs could be in danger of dropping points. Will Arsenal finish above Tottenham? I’d view it as 50/50 maybe Tottenham having a slight advantage because their squad and manager have been together longer but it is only a slight advantage at most.

Manchester United have made significant improvements at the back this summer with the signings of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan Bissaka. Many in the media and on social media scoffed at the huge fees which United paid for these two signings but it cannot be denied that they are massive upgrades at their positions.

The biggest questions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are where their goals are going to come from and what Paul Pogba they’re going to get. The sale of Romelu Lukaku was welcomed by the majority of United’s supporters but their failure to bring in a replacement has left the burden of goals on Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, neither of which has proven that they have the natural goal-scoring instincts to carry the load for a top-four side. Both players are still young so it can’t be ruled out that either one could have a breakout season and get 20 plus goals.

Much like Mesut Ozil, Paul Pogba is often viewed too harshly by pundits and members of the media. He has unbelievable ability and this, coupled with his physical attributes, should have him regarded as one of the best players in the Premier League. Unfortunately for United fans, they don’t get to see this quality often enough. Consistent performances from Pogba and consistent goal scoring from Rashford and Martial are definitely the keys for United finishing in the top four this season.

When compared to Arsenal I think United have the advantage defensively but where Arsenal definitely have the upper hand is in terms of strength in-depth and goal scoring. Arsenal have two strikers, well capable of scoring 20 plus league goals in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. The difference between these two sides isn’t astronomical by any means but because of the goal threat Arsenal have, I’d give them the better chance of a top-four finish.

Chelsea fans won’t want to hear this but I think they have a slim if any chance at Champions League qualification this season. As Graeme Souness pointed out on Sky Sports, Frank Lampard has been given the hardest job of any Chelsea manager in the Roman Abramovich era.

Not only did he take over in the midst of a transfer ban, but he also lost his unquestioned best player in Eden Hazard. Hazard was able to cover over a lot of the cracks for Maurizio Sarri last season, producing goals from nothing to win games where Chelsea were struggling to create chances. Arsenal’s chances of overtaking Chelsea this season are two-fold.

Arsenal have made significant improvements and Chelsea have without a doubt taken a step back. Lampard and Chelsea are forced to rely on unproven, young talents like Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham to carry them into the top four. Asking these players to fill the gap left by Eden Hazard, I feel is too much to ask in their first season of Premier League football.

The surprise departure of David Luiz at the end of the window has not only weakened Chelsea but strengthened a rival in Arsenal. The reasons for his exit are not yet known but selling your most experienced defender to a direct rival cannot be conducive to qualifying for the Champions League.

Can Chelsea finish in the top four? I don’t believe so, I believe that come the end of the season they’ll be in the position many tipped Arsenal to be in, fighting off Everton, Wolves, and Leicester to stay in the top six.

Arsenal are not guaranteed to finish in the top four and I don’t think they are yet close to mounting a title challenge before people think I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m of the opinion, however, that Arsenal should be given at least an equal chance of Champions League Qualification.
I believe it is a race between three, relatively evenly matched teams for two places. Of the challengers, I think Arsenal have made the biggest improvements from last season, addressing all the key areas which needed strengthening from last year. Their increased strength in depth will help them to cope with a packed fixture list, should they go into the deeper stages of the Europa League.

The effect that these extra games had on Arsenal at the end of last season is difficult to quantify but it’s not a stretch to say this played a part in the league campaign fizzling out for Emery’s side. Adding firepower in Nicolas Pepe to an already potent strike force, adding the quality of Dani Ceballos in midfield and the winning mentality and leadership of David Luiz at the back all give Arsenal a huge chance at pipping their rivals to a top-four finish and putting the club back among Europe’s elite in the Champions League.

So, will Arsenal finish in the top four? I believe so. Can Arsenal finish in the top four? Yes, they’re 100% capable of it. But for Arsenal to be given only a slim chance of qualification by media and pundits and expected by some to miss out on the top six is a ridiculous notion.


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