Last season, Arsenal finished outside the English Premier League top four for the first time since 1996 and one thinks that bookmakers are being generous in offering close to even money about the Gunners falling short again next season.
Arsenal won the English FA Cup and ended up just one point behind fourth-placed Liverpool on the English Premier League ladder but one thinks that the Gunners will find it hard to overtake any of the four teams that finished above them last term and Manchester United is highly likely to improve in its second campaign under Jose Mourinho’s leadership.
It is blatantly obvious that Arsenal fans are split down the middle regarding their club’s decision to renew the contract of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger. One lost count of how many aeroplanes trailing Wenger Out banners flew over Arsenal matches last season and, if Arsenal hits a sticky patch at any stage of next term, one expects to see more derogatory messages in the skies above English Premier League grounds. From a neutral’s perspective, one thinks that Wenger has outstayed his welcome at Arsenal and that the Gunners will not progress until the French manager moves aside. Arsenal supporters have been lambasted for calling for the head of an English FA Cup-winning coach but they are entitled to their opinion that the Gunners are declining under Wenger; bad sides can win knockout competitions but it takes a good team to finish high on the English Premier League ladder.
Arsenal is not a good team and, with some of its stars set to leave the Emirates Stadium before the English Premier League kicks off next season – and the Gunners unable to lure potential suitors with UEFA Champions League action, either – the signs are relatively bad for Wenger’s side.
Of last term’s English Premier League top six teams, Arsenal (nine) lost at least three more games than Chelsea (five), Tottenham (four), Manchester City (six), Liverpool (six) and Manchester United (five). Moreover, Arsenal was 2-3-5 in its 10 English Premier League matches versus those five sides, ending up on the wrong side of the head to head against Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool. And Arsenal won just one of its nine English Premier League away games versus teams that finished on the top half of the ladder, overcoming eighth-placed Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
Arsenal will take part in next season’s UEFA Europa League so, whereas Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United will be free of their European commitments on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays, the Gunners will be running around on Thursdays, sometimes a long way from home. Competing in the UEFA Europa League is not going to assist Arsenal in its quest to qualify for the UEFA Champions League via the English Premier League.
Bet365 and SkyBet are offering odds of -125 about Arsenal finishing outside the English Premier League top four next term. One cannot see Arsenal leapfrogging either Chelsea or Manchester City and, even though Tottenham may not enjoy calling Wembley Stadium home while White Hart Lane gets a facelift, Spurs were 11 English Premier League points superior to the Gunners last season. One accepts that Liverpool is a vulnerable unless Reds manager Jurgen Klopp addresses his squad’s lack of depth but one thinks that Manchester United will contend for the English Premier League title and overtake Arsenal in the pecking order.
Bet on Arsenal finishing the upcoming English Premier League tournament in fifth position or worse and hope that the Gunners play sufficiently well to keep Wenger in a job but not well enough to stop their fans roasting the Frenchman.
Arsenal to finish outside the top four