Small time Charlies: Arsenal and Spurs non-trophy battle to the death!

Imagine Alastair Cook lifting his bat to salute the Lords crowd after scoring his 20th run or Lewis Hamilton stepping on the podium with a bottle of champagne after securing pole-position at the Monaco GP. Obviously both are fine achievements, but were Cook or Hamilton to celebrate them, they would both look like sportsmen whose minds have derailed to the point where even non-trophies – or, in this case, personal achievements – are celebrated as major victories. In reality, of course this would never happen, but in yesterday’s final round of Premier League matches, it did.

Any non-football fan walking into a London pub yesterday would have been forgiven for thinking the title was at stake on the final day of the Premier League season, given the scenes of jubilation and agony across the Northern section of the capital. In fact it was fourth place in the Premier League that Spurs and Arsenal players and fans were pinning their hopes and dreams on. Nothing more than the opportunity to play a game to qualify for the Champions League in the 2013/14 season.

As Arsenal players celebrated wildly on the pitch together with the fans that had traveled to St James’ Park, one could have been excused for thinking Arsene Wenger and his players had won the league and were about to return to the dressing room ahead of the trophy presentation.

Therein lies the problem. Celebrating fourth place and another trophyless season is incredibly small time, particularly for a club the size of Arsenal. The real issue is not that the Gunners celebrated finishing fourth, rather that finishing fourth is something some considered worthy of a celebration. Even Piers Morgan was embarrassed and I hated the fact I had to agree with him.

Granted, the financial bonus deriving from Champions League participation is essential to any club, both in terms of attracting top players and in terms of revenue, while securing local bragging rights is something every football fan would cherish but, ultimately, a fourth-place finish is nothing more than “a springboard for success”, as Arsene Wenger described it last night.

While it might be a little easier to understand Spurs fans’ desire to finish fourth above Arsenal, considering that they haven’t managed to do so in 18 years and have picked up only three trophies in the last 22 years, Arsenal fans’ jubilation is harder to comprehend.

Arsenal...Champions...of fourth!?

In the first 14 of those 22 years, Arsenal picked up 11 trophies but it’s now eight years since Arsene Wenger got his hands on any silverware and while Arsenal might have not declined, Wenger’s assertion that a fourth spot finish is like winning a trophy speaks volume for the stagnation into which his club has fallen.

Less than a year ago, Robin Van Persie, the man who had driven Arsenal to a fourth-place finish last season, made his desire to leave the club clear, many Arsenal fans reluctantly admitted that, unless the club won a trophy, they couldn’t expect their top players to be content with a top-four finish.

Yesterday’s scenes told a different story, one of lowered expectations. Money and European qualification are a panacea clubs can feed the fans only for so long for, as Wigan demonstrated a week ago, football is about winning titles and lifting cups.

Finishing fourth-best is a decent result and nothing more. Celebrating it like a victory is an admission that a club can no longer compete for the title and hoping that next season, with a couple of signings, it might just have a chance.

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  1. Paul says:

    Good points! I agree totally. Spurs need to be there to maintain our progress. Arsenal in clear decline and to hear Wenger call it a trophy (4th) well it is just a matter of time before spurs and Liverpool move above them. The scum finished 3rd last season but Wenger points at the fact they are 3 points bettet than last season. Ah but a whole position less. Bale will stay avb signs his players we win the league! Roll on the football season. Coys!

  2. Buzz3210(GOONER4LIFE) says:

    Well Paul if spuds are to maintain any sort of progress first try putting a decent points advantage to good use two seasons running we have sold top class players and STILL finished above you. Plus if you by mercenaries like buyour you will finish even lower next season you have one close to world class player who dragged you through the last three months virtually on his own and you call that progress. I thought footy was a team game never mind with your scum reference your are obviously not bitter. Yes we may not have won anything for 8 seasons but where in your recent history can you say you have a similar trophy record. Me thinks i can hear a pin drop.

  3. the_unchosen_one says:

    Exactly! When you think what the once all conquering arsenal were capable of quite recently its quite sobering to see their desperate celebrations for finishing 4th (just, and mostly thanks to a lack of conflicting fixtures in cups cos they’d been dumped out so early), and miles behind the top 2. Talk about aims being lowered season upon season.

  4. Steve says:

    I celebrated qualifying for the champions league yesterday because it was a great achievement if Harry Redknapp’s comment at the start of the season is anything go by, it was something along these lines” If Wenger can get this lot into the champions league it will be his greatest achievement” considering you spurs fans had such faith in him , surely you should give a little bit of credit where it is due. Oddly enough I have not heard Redknapp’s say anything either

    • the_unchosen_one says:

      You had every right to celebrate something, its just that the “something” ain’t quite what it used to be – how did that happen?. All credit though for coming back after being written off. Wenger’s a master at UCL qualification – but shouldn’t you be aiming higher?
      As for us, well a record EPL points score has got to be moving in the right direction, and beating yourselves, Man city and taking 4 points off Man U is rewarding and better than the last few years. Best of all though is Bale is staying, the lad obviously knows something is changing, slowly but surely.

  5. Matt says:

    Why wouldn’t you celebrate securing a CL spot – if that’s all you have left to play for? – Now Arsenal can compete on the big stage and not the shitty Europa league. Worth celebrating – No?

    Pointless and idiotic article.

  6. tivoli says:

    I think to dedicate at least 2 pages of pure ignorance in order to sound very dismissive about being in the Champions’ League and Arsenal in general is small time.

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