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You would not bet on Arsenal to win the title this season but you might want to make the bet soon if the pieces being put in place work out

Here’s a bet you might not want to take: Arsenal to win the league this year.

Such an outcome seems very unlikely requiring as it does not just a major upturn in Arsenal’s results throughout the rest of the season but also a significant decline in the fortunes of Manchester City.

But if we pause for a moment the same could be said for Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool who we managed to draw with last Friday when we came back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 only for Liverpool to equalise and Tottenham.  I’m not sure about the last two, but the first two in that list might well have thought that they were in with a chance when the season kicked off in August.  Now I suspect they know it’s all over.

And this thinking leads us to another question.  If not this year, then what about next year?  Given the way Manchester City have been playing, and the finances behind the club, one begins to wonder exactly what has to happen in order for City to slip from their perch.

A complete five year ban on them doing any more transfer business, because of some past indiscretion might help.  So might a military coup in Abu Dhabi, or the invention of the anti-gravity drive which ends our dependence on oil and gas, but otherwise it is hard to see what will cause their fall.

Which could then make the League, in future, rather boring, and instead put the focus elsewhere, such as the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Europa League.

All are possible for Arsenal, the team that has won the FA Cup three times in the last four years, and has a record number of wins under a manager who also holds the all time record.  And of course last season we not only won the cup but also beat Manchester City and Chelsea in the final couple of games.

The Carabao is also certainly a possibility given that Arsenal are no longer out on their own in playing a second XI in the league cup matches.  And the fact that Arsenal can change their team totally so that no one who plays in one game then has to play in the next, is a major advantage.

Olivier Giroud

Indeed even with Giroud out for a while, we still have a collection of men who can play centre forward – and the first round of the semi-final isn’t until 10 January.  Plus, even if Giroud is not back for that he ought to make the second leg at the Emirates on 24th.

As for the Europa, like the Carabao, it always has some tough teams in it as the competition moves onto the later rounds, but again with two squads, there is every possibility that Arsenal could find themselves in a European final for the first time since 2006.

And yet, it is argued, all of this is second level stuff.  Indeed as we heard some years ago, the FA Cup is not a Trophy.  Only the League and the Champions League count.

I would disagree however.  In a football environment in which one club has all the money it wants, and then some, which was graciously given its stadium by the state (although to be fair the club did pay for the top tier at one end), and which is part of a worldwide franchise of six clubs, with more being added all the time, the competition is over.

Indeed there is a “Manchester City” style dominance in Germany (Bayern) and in France (PSG).  We’re just following the trend.


There might be a glimmer of hope.  First there was the shock horror of Arsenal losing Alexis and Ozil at the end of this season.  But that horror story has faded because a) Alexis seems to be permanently off form these days and b) Ozil appears to want to sign a new contract.

Second, behind the scenes Arsenal have been moving in some very big hitters to help get new star players to sign, keep existing players happy, keep everyone fit, and find new upcoming players before anyone else does.

Arsenal appointed the Barcelona director of football Raul Sanllehi as the club’s new head of football relations working with incoming chief scout Sven Mislintat, who has arrived from Borussia Dortmund.   We also got Team Sky’s legal and commercial expert Huss Fahmy to work on player contracts. … Fitness expert Darren Burgess has also joined.

Which leads me to another point…   do you remember all those tales about Arsenal have more injuries than anyone else?  They were never accurate of course, just some fake news circulated by an embittered ex-employee, but Arsenal were generally in the top third of the league table of injuries.

Now we’re regularly in the bottom quarter of the list.  Some reporters try to enhance our list of one or two players out by adding Santi Cazorla, but the sad fact is, Santi is no longer listed as a player who can play for Arsenal – he is not included in the 25 players list submitted to Uefa and to the Premier League at the end of each transfer window.  Most of the time we only have one or two injuries.

Whether these changes are enough to take Arsenal to a position where we challenge again for a league title, I don’t know, and I worry that Manchester City will just go on buying and buying players in an attempt to be just like Bayern Munich (who have won the league five times running, and the league and cup double three times running, and are looking to achieve that double again this season).

Of course Uefa could wake up and start questioning Manchester City from the point of view of FFP regulations, but since they let PSG get away with murder last summer in the transfer market, that seems unlikely.

So, we can only hope that the new background team will do their jobs and persuade the very best players to come to Arsenal.  That revolution may take another couple of years to bring results, but in the meanwhile, a Cup Treble could be something to look forwards to.

Of course the Cups won’t be Trophies in the eyes of some, but I think I’d quite like the experience.  After all, those recent semi-finals, finals and Community Shield games at Wembley have been quite enjoyable.

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