Actually, fair f***s to Arsenal for finishing second behind this Man City side

·17-min read
Bukayo Saka of Arsenal Credit: Alamy
Bukayo Saka of Arsenal Credit: Alamy

Bottlers? Their best chance? Most fans are happy to say that Arsenal did very well to even get close to Man City.

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Arsenal bottlers? STFU
I can imagine there will be numerous letters suggesting that Arsenal have bottled it. They haven’t. In their Invincible season they attained 90 points, only three more than they might this season, and that total would not have won the league this season.

Arsenal have done exceptionally well against the petrol-injected freak show that is City. Let’s commend them for that.
Rob (Liverpool)


…I’m not an Arsenal fan by any means, but I think that to call them ‘bottlers’ – which I’m sure a lot of N17 based keyboard warriors are itching to do is extraordinarily harsh. They’ve gone toe-to-toe with an amazing team in City, who are simply incredible. It took Liverpool winning 90+ points in several seasons just to keep pace with them. Putting the financing to one side for a moment, Pep has produced something pretty special at City and no-one expected Arsenal to even finish in the top 4 this year so to keep City from winning the league before April is an achievement to be proud of. But of course, this is the banter era, so no-one wants to say that..
Dan, London


Well done Arsenal
I feel for Arsenal fans this morning. The dream is over. And now they have to deal with other teams crowing about their failure. I assume because they’re just uninterested in City, so they focus on the only bit that matters: other people’s pain.

I’m obviously not part of that instinct, but there’s a part of me that wants to shout “this wasn’t even a great City campaign”. It wasn’t 100 points; an unstoppable juggernaut that won’t be moved. This City were fallible. They weren’t the monster that Klopp has had to deal with. Except, sadly City’s fallible looks like a low 90s finish. Chelsea have topped 90 twice since the league went to 20 teams. Ditto Ferguson’s many teams. And by topped, I mean 90 or 91 points. This City team are ridiculous. The Lance Armstrong of football. In every way.

So, instead of shitting on Arsenal, I’m going to praise them. Because, assuming they find 3 more points this season, they’ll become the only team, other than Liverpool, to finish within 10 points of this City side since 16/17. Yes, even the season they were 18 points behind Liverpool, third place was a further 15 points back. That’s how much spending a nation state’s wealth on players, infrastructure and the personnel to drive it will do for you.

So, well done Gunners. It’s an achievement. A great one. But one that may get overshadowed by the cheats looming over everyone. Hopefully you can build on it next season.
Andrew M, Streatham


Stars aligned for Arsenal? What a load of nonsense
So it turns out as most predicted Arsenal couldn’t keep up the relentless pace they set through 2/3rds of the season, a phenomenal effort nonetheless. Brighton were excellent yesterday, deserved their win, Arsenal looked tired and deflated after seeing another relentless City win that they had to respond to.

I found it absolutely hilarious that this morning’s mailbox suggests everything went right for us this season…two baffling calls went in their favour” like those two PGMOL apologies one completely unprecedented forgetting to draw offside lines that cost us two points and was the first sacking of an official as a direct result of such a poor decision.

“No injuries” except Saliba missing 10 games in the run in, Tomiyasu as well, Jesus out for 3 months, ESR out for 4/5th of the year and plenty of others in crucial games. If you want a team with no injuries then look at City’s ridiculous record this season and “rivals falling off like they had some voodoo hex”. Yes Liverpool have had a poor season but I had us 3rd at the start of the season.

Irrespective of what any other teams did we still had to beat the juggernaut that is City and would likely have needed 95 points to do so. Winning the league with the youngest team in the division, with a clear squad depth issue, and from finishing 5th last year, and up against the best team the Premier League has seen with the best manager and best striker was apparently like missing an open goal! haha The only time City haven’t won the league in the last six years it could have been won on 82 points, that’s planets aligning.

Arsenal had 50 points at half way, on course for the most points ever, they were virtually perfect to this point, now City have won 11 straight and will likely end up on 94 points, so Arsenal needed to ‘come home’ with 45 points for the title – again virtually perfect.

Arsenal went on two poor runs this season at the end of each of those runs we played Man City – a bit unlucky in the timing of the fixtures, but perfect timing for City along with their ability to keep everyone virtually fit all season. Rodri is an annoying player but without doubt the best defensive midfielder in the world, averages 50 games a season for Man City.

I’m sure there will be more talk of bottling it, and to some extent Arsenal have fallen away when it mattered, although there seems to be a great rush for every failing by any team to be put down to some mental defect when in reality most of the time they just weren’t good enough or the other team played better.

The youngest squad in the league who finished 5th last year put up a decent fight to run City as close as we could. Everyone told us we couldn’t and wouldn’t win the league all through the season, now when we haven’t they laugh to say we’ve blown it, you can’t have both.
So this is 5 in the last 6 titles for City, you have to go back to 2001 when a team last dominated the league like that. The difference is back then it was 80+ points to win the title, now it is mid 90’s.

I think what rival fans are sensing is unbridled relief that Arsenal haven’t won it, because Arsenal winning it puts a huge microscope on your own club’s failings, how could a team with a rookie manager full of U23 players who found some great players for great prices (who everyone laughed at) win the league when we couldn’t. If Arsenal had won it it would have shown the league was perfectly attainable for every member of the top sixi nstead of being able to hide behind a multitude of excuses you have – trust me Arsenal fans have been more than happy to use these excuses in the seasons we didn’t compete in either.

And now to the final often spewed analysis that it was Arsenal’s best chance because all the big teams will be better next season. Fundamentally wrong on so many levels but to pick just 2, 1) it ignores that a very young Arsenal team who have shown willingness to recruit won’t themselves have a chance of being better and 2) isn’t every team ‘trying’ to be better every close season, how many actually do it? Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs all tried to be better this year but all failed. Many man U fans are questioning if Man U are any better than when Ole was in charge.
Rich, AFC

READ: Arsenal need to be bullish and act like a Big Club amid nonsense ‘bottle’ talk


…Boring, but I have to bite to Vinnie Pee – and the large swathes of people writing Arsenal off next season already. “But everyone else is going to get better” is just the worst argument going. Everyone bar City has problems of their own; some don’t have managers, some haven’t dealt with European football in years (or ever) and some are have full rebuilds on their hands.

I believe tomorrow is the year anniversary since Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher wrote us off for the top four this season on the basis that everyone else is going to get better, so forgive me if I’m inclined to think the second youngest squad (the youngest got relegated by the way) are going to add a couple of quality players and can improve again. There is no basis that Odegaard might suddenly get worse, or Saliba, or Saka or Martinelli. If we can add to them a Declan Rice or a Caicedo (what a player) or players of this ilk, why can’t they challenge again?

As for:
– Weird goals? Nelson? Not really sure what this meant
– Baffling calls? Like White ‘fouling’ Ward at Leicester, but Enciso being allowed to tread on Kiwior’s heal? Or the VAR forgetting to draw lines v Brentford and getting sacked? Or a PGMOL apology for disallowing the opener at Old Trafford?
– No Injuries? Except our new striker. And our best centre back. And our backup RB in the same game, which led to a complete change in style. And our DM having to be chaperoned on international duty because he’s made of glass. And Zinchenko, who missed games at the start and the end. But yeah apart from those.

The club ‘being in the dung heap’ is a real stretch. Yesterday was a chastening one, but it’s been a brilliant season and I’d far rather be us with our problems than some of our rivals.

And in response to that bloke last week worrying about City being loathed, don’t worry. I hope they go on to do the treble now because not many neutrals will be that arsed and I still hate Man Utd more.

Up the Gunners. Roll on next season.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


…You have to love the narrative forcing from Vinnie Pee this morning. It reminded me of the classic Monty Python ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ sketch.

‘Why didn’t Arsenal win the league when all their rivals fell off?’
‘Well apart from Man City.’
‘Well yeah obviously Man City will get 90+pts, that’s a given!’
‘And Haaland scoring more goals than any other striker in premier league history!’
‘Well yeah, we all knew he would score loads of goals and never get injured that doesn’t count!’
‘I mean Man City may win the treble and arguably be the best club side on the planet.’
‘Alright alright! Apart from Man City getting 90+ points 3 years in a row, Haaland scoring 40 goals, and them being the best side in the world. Why didn’t Arsenal win the league?!?’
Craig in Vietnam. (Saliba was a sliding doors moment compounded by Tomiyasu also getting injured in the same game. Most reasonable Arsenal fans understand this was where the title bid ended)


…Vinnie Pee has got it massively wrong (although I suspect he’s just trolling). I’m a Liverpool supporter, so no real skin in the game, but I’ve not seen any Arsenal fans believing they might win the title. Far from it, in fact, supporters of other clubs have been trying to persuade them to enjoy the run and the shot at the title knowing that City are likely going to win every match in the run in, knowing that a 10 point lead counts for nothing.

I feel a little for Arsenal because, IMO, they did bottle it a bit with the 2-0 leads becoming draws and the 3-3 with Southampton being the biggest moments and when you’re in a race with City it’s those points that will kill your challenge, not losing to Brighton when it’s all but gone anyway.

So yeah, just wanted to step in and tell Vinnie to back off because Arsenal have been impressive this season and but for some stupidity this might have been going down to the wire having come from nowhere. I didn’t want them to win it really, but got to take your hat off when it’s deserved and Arsenal definitely deserve it.

I think Arsenal supporters should be proud, the pressure’s off now and you should bask in what remains of the season and enjoy the great football you’ve been playing.

In a nutshell: Fair f**ks to you!
Rob, Worthing


What chance does anybody have v Man City?
And so Man City romp to another title, and the only prospect of them not doing it again next season (and so on) is probably Newcastle’s similarly dubious and infinite funding allowing them to catch up on over a decade of studious financial doping.

We all know what Man City are, but that doesn’t make it any less boring. I still find it bizarre that everyone was so opposed to the European Super League on the basis that it didn’t have relegation and therefore wasn’t a “proper” sporting competition. You think this one is?!

I don’t know what the Premier League needs in order to get back to some semblance of actual balanced competition, but it needs something. A draft system? Wage caps? At the moment it feels like the only thing to look forward to year after year is finding out whether the infinite-money clubs bottle their title processions.

We all cackled when Qatar bought PSG and removed any semblance of competition from Ligue 1. Funny to think we were already well on our path to the same soulless outcome.


On Man City’s top scouting team
I’m not writing in to defend Arsenal’s capitulation (a 5 point gap when you still have to play City at the Etihad is bad but not a “bottlejob” in my opinion) but I had a great laugh at one of Stewies points:

‘Is it down to Citeh that Pep and his team scouted a top youth talent like Julian Alvarez, signed him for just £15m and now have a top WC winner for years to come? Handy to have £50m just handed to you for an upgrade! Citeh even have spare change left.’

I love that Stewie thinks Man City scouts were perusing the local 5 a side pitches and found Alvarez kicking about with his brothers and unearthed this unbelievable talent that nobody knew about, not the Youth teams at Real Madrid where he was on trial, or when he scored at 19 in the Copa Argentina final nor his 23 goals for River, a well known producer of talent. Maybe it was because the United scouts had gone to watch this completely unknown revelation play football for the Argentina u21s team when he was 18.

Maybe, just maybe, it could be that playing under one of the greatest managers in one of the greatest teams ever was quite enticing.

Also, bonus points for “no injuries” from Vinnie Pee, fortunately there is data for this sort of thing. In March, Arsenal players had missed 79 games vs Citehs 49. Since then we have had Saliba, Zinchenko and Tomiyasu all out and to my knowledge Ake is the only first teamer out, this gap will have widened further…

Love being told the fans are complicit in our teams’ form dropping and we’re not allowed to celebrate 2nd. It’s just going to make me celebrate it even harder when we hear Champions League music back at the Emirates.
Rob A (Mikel really needs to learn to adapt/plan B a little more though if we want to challenge again…) AFC


Any final-day drama?
This has been a pretty good season all in all. An unexpected title challenger, a top 4 gatecrasher, some smaller sides punching above their weight and multiple relegation candidates. However, there is a danger of it petering out with almost nothing left to play for on the final day. Of the 5 things available, I’ve ranked them from most to least likely to be done and dusted before we get to that final Sunday.

League Title
All over bar the shouting.
What needs to happen: Given their goal difference, City just need 2 points from 2 games. Or match Arsenal’s result in the next round or fixtures and the title is officially won.

Europa League
There are 2 Europa League spots in the league because of how the cups have gone. This one is also just about over, especially with Brighton and Liverpool’s goal difference advantage over Spurs and Villa.
What needs to happen: Liverpool need a point in their next 2 games. Brighton need 5 in their next 3 games. Potentially less if Villa and Spurs fail to win theirs. Villa play Liverpool at Anfield and Spurs are Spurs, so that’s quite likely.

Champions League
For all the talk about Liverpool’s late charge, it’s unlikely. 3 games to go for each side and Newcastle and United have a 4 point cushion. Newcastle also have a superior goal difference to Liverpool (thanks a lot Tottenham)
What needs to happen: Newcastle and United need to match Liverpool’s results over the next 2 games. Do that and CL qualification is secured.

It’s still tight down there but it also could be over next weekend.
What needs to happen: Forest need a point and they will be safe. If Everton win next weekend and Leeds and Leicesster lose, then the relegation battle is over.

Conference League
The only one that is certain to be in contention. Villa and Spurs are on 57 points, with a very similar goal difference. So whatever happens at the weekend, this goes down to the final day.

We all love a bit of drama so hopefully these results don’t transpire. Otherwise we end up with a bit of a final day damp squib.
Mike, LFC, London


A lone voice down here
I am LOVING the Arsenal fan meltdown across social media! I know it is sadistic but I absolutely LOVE IT! Also, Arsenal have completely and utterly bottled the league in a way not seen since the Stevie G slip and United in 2012.

– Arsenal were on top for 90% of the season, and lost the league. The highest ever % on top recorded for eventual losers. 4 of the top 5 “bottles” in this particular start are Arsenal.

– The cocky fans were across social media and in the stadium after lucky last minute wins and comeback wins, so they should most definitely be ready for some of that banter back

– Arsenal never looked like winning the league to me unless City slipped. Arsenal dropped 12 points recently which has led them to be losers this year

– Do not foresee a title challenge next year or even decade, and may struggle to get in the CL next year also with the added commitments

I am not being a complete hater here. To just get the top 4 next season Arsenal need 3-4 good players who can settle into their team from day one, to compete on all fronts. To get that level of recruiting right seems difficult and I doubt it will happen. Players would rather go to Madrid, Barca, City, United, Bayern, Newcastle (if money+), Chelsea (if money+) before coming to Arsenal. This is not including PSG and the Italians.

So long and farewell to Arsenal title dreams, hope they arise again next decade or in the 40s. Cheers!
Aman Sheth

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