‘Ifreke Inyang: Arsenal celebrated 4th place like a trophy, so what?

by ‘Ifreke Inyang

Newcastle United vs Arsenal

Arsenal is a big club and should be winning trophies, not making permutations for 4th place – mind you, they still have a two-legged tricky tie to win, before they sail through to the competition proper.

There was always going be criticisms against Arsenal. It didn’t matter if Arsene Wenger’s men scaled that one last hurdle against Newcastle or if they stumbled and allowed Tottenham Hotspurs creep into the Champions League. Talking about Arsenal irrespective, is officially a staple for people who don’t just like the club. So they must always talk, tweet and trumpet ANYTHING. It’s surreal.

I read Ivan Dougan’s piece this morning (read it HERE) and it made sense. A lot of sense. However, since I have never previously read his stuff even on Twitter, I cannot place where he stands. He might be a Gunner, who is fed up with the way mediocrity is embraced at the Emirates. There is also a distinct possibility, that he is very anti-Arsenal. Whatever side of the divide he falls in, I don’t think his opinion was objective enough.

This is not a personal crusade for the team I support. I have read countless articles that ripped Arsene and Arsenal into shreds. And I liked them. This is about making facts clearer.

Yesterday, late goals from Mario Balotelli and Phillipe Mexes, sealed AC Milan’s place in next year’s Champions League. The players and officials of the team celebrated wildly. (Not) surpisingly, the keyboard warriors conveniently ignored it. Having a dig at Arsenal is always a more tantalising endeavour and the campaign started. From mocked up 4th place trophies to scathing criticisms, it was a funfare.

These are the same set of people, who said in March or even in early May, that Spurs would beat their fierce rivals to the elite European competition. Arsenal recovered from that derby defeat, posting some remarkable results and they ended in fourth and you still whine? How about being consistent? Give the team a little credit. When Robin van Persie decided to leave for Manchester United, a lot of football observers believed the Gunners would drop out of the top four. Jamie Redknapp went on and on about how Spurs have a better team and were fired up by Andre Villas-Boas arrival. I don’t dispute that. He also admitted earlier this year, that if Arsenal finish 4th, it would count as one of Wenger’s greatest achievement.

So tell me, why was it really wrong for the Arsenal players to celebrate after the final whistle? It was a tense game and they held their nerves to record the win, after Gareth Bale fired a stunning late winner against Sunderland. Maybe they should have just filed obediently into the tunnel and say, ‘okay, we will be back next year’?

Arsenal is a big club and should be winning trophies, not making permutations for 4th place – mind you, they still have a two-legged tricky tie to win, before they sail through to the competition proper. However, they are still paying for the cost of moving to the Emirates and Wenger has not been able to spend big. Instead, he sold off Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and van Persie. How could he have sustained a title challenge with mediocre replacements like Gervinho and Chamakh? There is a lot of talk that there is surely money available this summer. And it’s unlikely that there will be any big name departure this summer.

Those ‘4th place celebrations’ would count for nothing, if Wenger doesn’t bring in fantastic signings to compliment this core. Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud haven’t done badly in their first season. If Stevan Jovetic is anywhere close to joining, as it has been rumoured and a defensive midfielder, goalkeeper and centre-back arrive, we surely will NOT take those wild celebrations next year.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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