Every single year, at the start of the season when title favourites are mentioned, Arsenal are always part of the discussion.
Rarely touted for top spot, but often pegged as the potential surprise package.
You see, they won the title a few times over a decade ago, and a certain cross-section of the footballing community still believe that they’ve got ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is.
But they haven’t won the title since 2004.
And in the last decade, you could argue that that’s been because of the megabucks clubs entering the arena.
In the late-nineties and early-noughties it was all about Man United and Arsenal. They shared the spoils over a number of seasons, and theirs was the biggest rivalry in the Premier League.
Then the money arrived. First Chelsea, then City entered the fray with millions and millions of pounds, and all of a sudden there were four potential teams fighting for the title…five if you’re being kind to perennial underachievers Liverpool.
And during this period, one could almost forgive Arsenal for failing to land the Premier League crown.
After all, we were told time and time again that they had no money as they’d just moved stadiums, and that Wenger was biding his time whilst building a team for the future.
But now, things are different. The trouble is, Arsenal aren’t.
Not only has Wenger spent big in recent years on truly world-class players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but the arrival of those players has also coincided with some iffy bouts of form from the aforementioned moneybags teams AND Man Utd.
Take last season and the season before – United weren’t close to winning the title, and yet Arsenal didn’t capitalise. Weren’t even close. Despite a major rival being taken out of the running, Wenger’s men didn’t perform any better.
Which brings me onto this season.
To be blunt, the league should be Arsenal’s to lose this year.
But Arsenal, being Arsenal, seem determined to throw it away.
— NOW TV Sport (@NOWTVSport) February 28, 2016
As good as Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur are, their player values, their wage bills and their facilities are not even close to being a match for Arsenal’s.
And yet Leicester sit five points clear of Arsenal with 11 games to go, with Spurs two behind Leicester.
From an Arsenal perspective this is unforgiveable.
Not only have Chelsea written themselves out of the title race, so have Liverpool AND Manchester United, and although Man City are still theoretically ‘in’ the race, the Citizens are now nine points shy of Leicester, albeit with a game in hand.
In short, this is Arsenal’s very best opportunity to win the league for over a decade, and they’re throwing it away.
Arsene Wenger’s biggest fans always plead for time for the Frenchman, but if he fails to deliver the league title to the Emirates this year there can be no more excuses – it must be regarded as abject failure.
Arsenal’s collapse was embarrassing, pitiful – their world class stars bottled it against Man United’s boys https://t.co/tdtH0AqgXt
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) February 28, 2016