When all is said and done, Arsenal should have won the Premier League title this season after the position they found themselves in.
I won’t mention the dreaded ‘B’ word (as in bottled), but I do think they lacked the wherewithal to control their own destiny and contracted a bizarre case of altitude sickness.
It was unforgivable in some respects to have thrown away the points they did against Everton, West Ham, Southampton and Liverpool. Arsenal had the trophy in their hands and decided to hand it back, like some demented game of pass the parcel. They had multiple chances to unwrap the present but didn’t do it!
The players have to look inwards and Mikel Arteta has to look at himself. The expectations on Arsenal were so low that they are being praised for finishing second, despite snatching defeat from the jaws of victory having been eight points clear just a few weeks ago.
Arsenal didn’t lose this league because they lost home and away to Manchester City, they lost it because when it came down to it, from February through to last weekend, they wasted opportunities. They showed unnecessary fragilities and frailties in key moments and that lack of substance causes concern.
Arsenal’s hopes of winning a first Premier League title in 19 years are all but over this season
Mikel Arteta watched his side throw away a convincing lead at the top in recent months
Mail Sport columnist Simon Jordan feels the Gunners have showed unnecessary frailties in key moments this season
I felt this Arsenal side and their young players would only get better and that this campaign would be a launch sequence for next season. But I am not sure I think that any more. My belief has eroded due to recent results and performances.
Assuming the younger players will go up a level and that the squad will benefit from this experience is dangerous, wrong and not reflective of where this group are. Football doesn’t go in a linear way and, alongside the reality of an improved Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and City being City, that means this year was possibly as good as it gets in terms of opportunity.
I wrote in these pages back in March about how impressed I was with how aligned and united they were as a club, even if that wasn’t quite evident against Brighton, when we saw an exodus of fans. Yet, notwithstanding that, there is much more for Arsenal to grab on to than there has been for some time.
But the key component of Arsenal’s potential future success doesn’t just lie in the dugout, it also lies in the boardroom because if Arsenal are going to go again, they must invest — and invest heavily.
For Arsenal to evolve, which might actually just mean staying where they are now, the board need to be prepared to go to another level. The key question is: how much do you want it, ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke? I’ve always thought he was that rare thing — a billionaire seemingly comfortable with footballing mediocrity, happy as long as Arsenal kept on qualifying for Europe and it didn’t cost him any money.
Well, now is the time to build on what could be a great platform, otherwise Arsenal could find it was all built on quicksand.
Kroenke, if truly desiring success, must give Arteta substantial money to find someone who can score them 25-30 goals. He needs a deeper, better squad to ensure the substitutes coming on are as good as those they are replacing. If that investment manifests itself, this season will not have been wasted. If it doesn’t, then I struggle to see how Arsenal will maintain what they have achieved, let alone progress.
Arsenal chief Stan Kroenke needs to invest heavily in the squad this summer
Kroenke appears a billionaire who is comfortable with footballing mediocrity at the Emirates
To be blunt, City and more recently Brighton, clinically and undeniably exposed Arsenal’s inability to adapt because, when their full-court pressing failed, then boom, trouble ensued.
And let’s not forget that, despite all of the above, very rarely have we seen such a gulf in class between first and second than when City handed them their heads. It ended 4-1 but could easily have been seven or more.
The irony of Arsenal landing back in the Champions League is that it could come with a sting in the tail. They now face the risk of failing to do anything significant in Europe and at the same time watching their league form potentially diminish. That vicious circle could take them out of the top four, a berth certain factions may consider theirs for keeps going forward.
To be able to even get a waft of wrestling this Premier League away from City, I think we’re talking £250million-plus on new players but it has to be spent well. They need centre forwards, centre backs and central midfielders and need to ensure William Saliba’s contract is extended beyond the year he has left. They need to find upgrades wherever they can and Arteta must be forensic, ruthless and honest. He can have no falsely placed loyalty.
Arsenal need to spend around £250million to be able to compete with Man City next season
Arteta is in desperate need of a new centre-forward and depth to his squad in the summer
Arsenal need only glance down the road at Tottenham to see what can happen when you don’t invest from a position of strength. Other clubs such as Aston Villa and Newcastle will be thinking if they can push for the league then why can’t we. We’ve got money, resources, ambition and desire. So how much do Arsenal want to be successful and how much inspiration and ambition has Arteta’s season instilled into the boardroom? We’ll soon find out.
It’s important for the Premier League that, alongside other sides regaining their lustre, Arsenal maintain this progress and that will only happen with significant funds invested in the squad.
City are so good and seemingly only getting better under Pep Guardiola but for the sake of football, and with no disrespect to the champions elect, the league needs Arsenal to build on this and not waste all the good work that’s gone into making them contenders this season.
Poch won’t land silverware for Chelsea – he’s not a winner
Mauricio Pochettino’s imminent arrival at Chelsea is an interesting one. Yes, he built a great side at Tottenham but he didn’t win anything and although I’m sure he’ll make Chelsea contenders again, I don’t think he’ll land any silverware for them because I don’t think he’s a winner, he just gives you a whiff of winning.
It’s one thing winning in France with Paris Saint-Germain — if you don’t win something there then for God’s sake what are you doing? — but if you want to go to Chelsea you’d better make damn sure you’re a winner and I’m not sure he is.
Mauricio Pochettino is on the verge of becoming Chelsea head coach
His return to the Premier League has also complicated matters for Daniel Levy’s search for a manager because Pochettino popping up at Chelsea looks like something Tottenham should have done. Pochettino would have you believe he’d have gone back to Spurs if offered the chance so Levy now has to get this right for his own credibility.
There is a section of the Tottenham fanbase who are rabid and there’s also a more measured section who understand what he has tried to achieve in stabilising the club and understand that they punched above their weight, given their financial might compared to others. But even that sympathetic part of the fanbase will find it difficult to justify Levy bouncing from Jose Mourinho to Nuno Espirito Santo to Antonio Conte to someone who does nothing again.
If Levy gets this appointment wrong it could be very hard for him to recover any ground with the club’s fans and the whole situation has been compounded by Pochettino going to Chelsea.
This next appointment is fantastically important for Levy. He needs to find the next Jurgen Klopp, someone who can bring the club and fanbase with him and who understands they can’t compete with the wealth of City, United or Chelsea. If he gets it wrong again, not only will Tottenham not get back in the top four again any time soon, they won’t even get back in the top six.
Listen to White and Jordan every weekday on talkSPORT from 10-1pm.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk