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Four reasons behind the mess that is Arsenal Football Club

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The transfer window has closed and Arsenal fans all over the world have been left frustrated by the clubs failure to add to their underperforming squad. Sound familiar? This has been an ongoing issue since the club left Highbury for the Emirates Stadium but it is astonishing that so many of the club’s faithful believed this summer would be any different.

The club has stagnated, the manager’s best days are behind him and the board are a cancer to this once great outfit. The supporters feel cheated, and rightly so, but what can be done about it? The answer is not very much.

Protests, banners and chants will all be in vein because Arsenal football club are a money making machine and that is the sole reason Stan Kroenke decided to descend upon our shores in the first place. As long as the club continues to record profits, the American owner certainly won’t be going anywhere.

Some choose to blame Wenger, others point the finger at the board but really it is a combination of factors and, therefore, a far more complex issue to resolve.

Stan Kroenke and the Board

Arsenal’s majority shareholder currently owns the Los Angeles Rams and the Colorado Rapids; you only need to look at how those sports teams are performing to understand he’s only in it for the paper. He’s a ruthless businessman who spotted an opportunity to grow his fortune and, whilst it makes financial sense, there is no hope of him walking.

The club has taken their loyal fan base for a ride and the early acquisition of Alexandre Lacazette was a smoke screen for what was always going to be a frustrating summer. When will the fans understand that whilst Stan Kroenke sits at the helm, with Wenger as his right hand man, things will never change. Like it or not, Arsenal are now a selling club with the number one aim of turning a profit.

The board consists of businessmen loyal only to the bank. A panel of dinosaurs who don’t understand the game, value financial success above that of the team and disregard the fans, who ultimately make this club what it is. Not a football man in sight and nobody with the ‘cohones’ to challenge the majority shareholder. A closed community united only by their greed.

Finances

During the last few days we’ve heard conflicting reports regarding the financial situation at the club. On Wednesday night onlookers were led to believe that the club were all out of cash and on Thursday the Gunners reportedly made a £92 million bid for Monaco star Thomas Lemar. Which is to be believed?

During the 2016/17 season Arsenal spent a total of £96.3 million on transfers. Whether Arsene spent it well enough is a totally different discussion.

The board and ownership (rightly or wrongly) clearly feel the club cannot afford to outlay that kind of money for a second summer in a row. Here is my theory as to why…

The club recognised that their two biggest assets (Sanchez and Ozil) were unwilling to sign contract extensions and, therefore, they stand to lose a substantial amount of money.

Wenger may have made a plea to the board and requested the permission to keep those two players at all costs, even if it meant losing them on a free transfer come May.

The board accepted this, but on the conditions Wenger would need to trim down the wage bill and recuperate some of the money spent over the past two seasons to compensate their sell on value depreciating. Wenger opted to keep Sanchez and Ozil, rather than trying to replace them with the likes of Thomas Lemar and other linked stars.

I know what you are thinking: but Arsenal made a late bid for Lemar?! Perhaps Wenger, in his panic, thought the club would sell Alexis anyway and had to act on some form of contingency plan. When the Sanchez deal was off, Wenger breathed a huge sigh of relief and pulled the plug on the Lemar deal and the panic was over.

Yes, the reported bid for Lemar was huge, but when you look at what the club were going to receive from the sale of Sanchez, plus the profit we’d already made over the summer, in particular on the Oxlade-Chamberlain deal, it still would have balanced the books.

As fans, it will remain a mystery, but that’s just some food for thought. Like I said, just a theory.

Arsene Wenger

The boss has come under fire more than ever in the past couple of seasons and the lack of progress on the field is clear for all to see. You could argue he’s failed to sign the right players with the funds that were at his disposal. His weak leadership and tactical incompetence have played a big part in Arsenal’s omission from the top four and things will only get worse.

He appears to have lost the dressing room and during the recent defeat at Anfield looked a broken man. You could argue that the aforementioned contract situations mean the Gunners are unable to offer the kind of pay packets some of our competitors can.

However, you would be foolish to underestimate the impact Wenger is having on those stars. It is clear there is a lack of faith in the manager’s ability to restore Arsenal to the pinnacle of English football and the air of invincibility and power the board award Wenger with is counter constructive in so many ways.

For this club to move forward, regain its competitive edge and be able to attract the calibre of players necessary, the Frenchman simply has to go.

The move to the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal moved to the state of the art Emirates Stadium back in 2006. The idea behind the move was to increase revenue and put the club on a level playing field financially with some of Europe’s elite clubs. At the time the building of the stadium was sanctioned this, in theory, made perfect sense.

The Arsenal leadership could not have foreseen the rise in the Premier League’s TV revenue or the impact of the billionaire owner. At the time the move was proposed you could forgive the board for thinking an increase in gate receipt revenue would propel them above most of the divisions other clubs and give them greater spending power.

The Premier League’s TV revenue growth has meant that the clubs are now on something of a more level playing field. Of course you still have your super spenders, but this increased income means the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Watford and Huddersfield have all been able to spend substantial amounts of money on players.

The consequence being that the league becomes more competitive and the advantage of having a bigger stadium becomes less significant in the modern era.

It is fair to say the landscape of the Premier League has changed and that would have been difficult to forecast.

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Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal: Unstoppable Harry Kane the difference again for Spurs

Rob Meech brings us three talking points as Tottenham stole a march over London rivals Arsenal to further cement their hold on a top four place.

Rob Meech

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Photo: Reuters

Harry Kane was the match-winner as Tottenham Hotspur beat fierce rivals Arsenal to tighten their grip on qualification for next season’s Champions League.

The England striker headed home Ben Davies’ cross for his 23rd Premier League goal of the campaign, just after half-time.

Spurs deserved to win the match – and Kane perhaps should have added to his tally – although substitute Alexandre Lacazette squandered two late opportunities to snatch a point for the Gunners.

Victory moved Tottenham above Chelsea and into fourth spot in the table but crucially, their advantage over sixth-placed Arsenal now stands at seven points.

Having missed out on the top four last season, the Gunners face another uphill battle following their third successive away defeat.

Here are three talking points from an enthralling north London derby…

Dominant Spurs show their mettle

During a tricky spell of results, doubts were cast over Tottenham’s top-four credentials. They have surely now been banished.

Runs of fixtures don’t come much trickier than Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Not only did Spurs come through unscathed with seven points from a possible nine, but the football they played showed they are more than a match for any Premier League team – and arguably the best suited to challenge the supremacy of Manchester City.

The margin of victory over Arsenal may have been only a single goal, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men were dominant in every department.

They peppered Petr Cech’s goal and the ingenuity and creativity of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen perfectly complemented Kane’s ruthlessness.

Defensively, they are very sound and the depth of the squad was highlighted by the options Pochettino had on his bench.

Now nine games unbeaten, Spurs are peaking at the right time.

Arsenal’s top-four hopes suffer hammer blow

From the positivity that emerged from Arsenal’s thumping of Everton last weekend, this was a reality check.

The big trio of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were in the starting XI once again, but they couldn’t have the influence that tore the Toffees to shreds seven days earlier.

With 11 games remaining, the Gunners are somewhat cut adrift in the race for the top four.

There is no denying this defeat was a hammer blow to their ambitions.

Arsenal missed out on Champions League qualification last season for the first time since Arsene Wenger took the reins and revolutionised the club.

Despite the investment made during the summer and in January, it looks like the same fate will befall them this campaign.

Success in the Europa League – mirroring Manchester United last season – increasingly appears to be their most likely route back into Europe’s showpiece competition.

Unstoppable Kane is the difference once again

It feels like every time Spurs win, Kane is the man they have to thank.

The 24-year-old moved to 101 Premier League goals and decided the outcome of this derby with a towering header that gave Cech no chance.

Is there no stopping this prolific goalscorer, who continues to go from strength to strength?

In truth, Kane could have walked away with a hat-trick, but his seventh goal in as many north London derbies was sufficient to claim the three points.

Kane is not just a traditional number nine – his all-round game is mightily impressive.

This was a man-of-the-match display in which he showed off all facets to his game.

From spraying 40-yard passes, holding up the ball and pulling defenders out of position, to possessing an unerring ability to find himself in space, this was a complete performance by a remarkable player.

Keeping Kane at the club could well be the biggest challenge Tottenham face this summer, if suitors come calling.

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Which four of the ‘big-six’ clubs will qualify for next season’s Champions League?

Martyn Cooke

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There are just 12 games remaining of the current Premier League season and, with Manchester City seemingly destined to secure the title, attention will now turn towards the battle to secure a place in the top-four.

There are only three places available to share between Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool and two of those clubs will be have to be content with competing in the Europa League next season.

Here, The Boot Room predicts who will finish in the top four at the end of the season…

Arsenal

There was once a time when the possibility of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League was unthinkable, yet the Gunners are facing the realistic possibility of missing out on playing in Europe’s elite club competition for the second consecutive season.

This campaign they have been held back by their inconsistent and unpredictable form away from home and are playing catch-up with their rivals with a five-point gap emerging between themselves and fourth place.

There is a new sense of optimism around the Emirates Stadium after Wenger added Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to his squad yet a defeat against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday would all but end their hopes – qualifying through winning the Europa League could be a more realistic option.

Prediction: 6th

Manchester United

There is currently a slight sense of disappointment around Old Trafford this season that, despite obvious progress since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, the club have had to be content with seeing cross-city rivals Manchester City stroll their way towards the Premier League title.

It is difficult to imagine Manchester United missing out on a Champions League place as they already have a considerable buffer of seven points and undoubtedly have a squad that is full of quality and experience.

The arrival of Alexis Sanchez will provide additional impetus in the closing stages of the campaign and the only real danger is that their attention might be redirected towards challenging for the Champions League or FA Cup with the title already all but lost.

However, Mouirnho has his team ticking over nicely and it is likely that they will maintain their current league position.

Prediction: 2nd  

Chelsea

It has been a frustrating and increasing turbulent season at Stamford Bridge following the failure of Chelsea to build on last season’s title triumph.

Back-to-back defeats against Bournemouth and Watford have left the Blues clinging on to their place in the top four and there is now a realistic possibility that they may miss out on Champions League qualification.

Antonio Conte’s frustration with the club’s transfer policy has been clear to see since the summer and the off-pitch squabbling can only be a destabilising influence for the players.

Chelsea are certainly a team that are out of form and appear to be short of confidence and direction and it will be a true test of Conte’s managerial prowess to see if he can facilitate some sort of revival in the closing months of the season.

However, momentum is currently against them and they may well be one of the two clubs to miss out.

Prediction: 6th

Liverpool

You get the sense that it is always two steps forward followed by one step back at Anfield under Jurgen Klopp and you never know quite what to expect.

Liverpool continue to be consistently inconsistent as demonstrated by their recent, contrasting performances against Manchester City and Swansea City.

The arrival of Virgil van Dijk in the January transfer window is a boost, although recent games have suggested that he alone will not solve the club’s defensive frailties, whilst the sale of Phillip Coutinho is offset by the impressive array of attacking players that Klopp has collected.

If Liverpool can put together a good run of results then they will be able to capitalise on Antonio Conte’s woes as Chelsea and finish in the top four.

Prediction: 4th

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur supporters will now have a taste for Champions League football after the success of their team in this year’s competition and they are hitting form at just the right moment in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unbeaten since mid-December and have plenty of momentum with the inspirational figure of Harry Kane continuing to his remarkable, prolific run of form in front of goal.

Much will depend on whether the England striker can stay fit until the end of the season whilst they also need Dele Alli to rediscover the sparkle that he has lost in recent months.

Tottenham face a season-defining fixture on Saturday when they face Arsenal in the North London derby but they should have enough quality to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Prediction: 3rd

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan now requires consistency to live up to his reputation at Arsenal

After an impressive cameo in Arsenal’s 5-1 victory over Everton on Sunday, Henrikh Mkhitaryan now needs to maintain his level of performance if he is to fulfill his potential in the Premier League, writers Jake Jackman.

Jake Jackman

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Photo: Reuters

Arsenal were one of the more active sides during the January transfer window and the addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be looked back on as one of the signings of the season.

The Armenian international joined in part-exchange for the unpopular Alexis Sanchez and the Gunners side that played against Everton this past weekend looked to be much freer on the pitch.

It would be simplistic to suggest it was entirely down to Mkhitaryan and fellow new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but they clearly had a positive impact on the squad.

This level of performance will have to be displayed on a more consistent basis before supporters get too excited about this representing a new dawn for the club, but the first signs were encouraging.

Arsenal played Everton off the pitch and were out of sight by half-time. The match finished in a comfortable 5-1 win for the home side.

Although it was a disappointment not to keep a clean sheet, the side were near perfect throughout and that gives them something to build on heading into the closing months of the season.

It was a surprise when the rumoured swap deal involving Sanchez and Mkhitaryan eventually went through.

In the modern game, it is rare for straight swap deals to happen and it is even less common for it to involve two clubs that have been fierce rivals in the recent past.

The majority of the coverage suggested that it was a far better deal for Manchester United and it was seen as a sign of weakness from Arsenal.

Considering the form of the two players since arriving in England, that is a difficult viewpoint to argue against.

However, the Gunners will have seen the appeal of signing an experienced international and his first start indicated that he could be a huge success in North London.

The former Borussia Dortmund player made an immediate impact and contributed three assists during the match.

Manchester United had signed him in 2016 to add creativity to their ranks and although he threatened to do that at times, he never found his stride at Old Trafford.

It can be argued that his performance against Everton on his Arsenal home debut was the best of his Premier League career to date.

Given it came just weeks into his career in North London, there is reason to be genuinely excited about what he can achieve in a Gunners’ shirt.

Mkhitaryan was most dangerous down the right-wing, as he twice got free and supplied good balls in for two of Aaron Ramsey’s goals.

However, one advantage of playing him in a front three with Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Aubameyang was that he could interchange positions as the game progressed.

His second assist came when he moved into a central area and played a nice through ball to the striker he regularly supplied at Borussia Dortmund.

Their previous relationship has allowed both to settle quickly into the Arsenal team and the benefits were there to be seen on the weekend.

The Armenian played only three key passes, which is a surprise considering his influence on the game, but those that witnessed the whole match will attest to his quality.

He looked a completely different player to the one that was devoid of confidence at Manchester United.

In addition to creating several chances and making three goals, Mkhitaryan came close to scoring himself.

He popped up on the right wing in the first half and cut inside before producing a powerful effort that went just wide of the post.

Jose Mourinho was reluctant to give a prominent role to the attacker at Old Trafford as he had doubts about Mkhitaryan’s defensive work.

However, that part of his game was very impressive against Everton, as he won four aerial duels and completed seven ball recoveries.

He attempted 10 tackles in all and was successful in less than half of them (four), but he showed a willingness to work hard and that will have pleased Arsene Wenger.

The next challenge for Mkhitaryan will be to find the consistency that alluded him during his time in England so far.

He has shown flashes of his ability, but he hasn’t lived up to his reputation and his confidence levels dropped as a result.

His home debut should have provided him with plenty of that and it is crucial that he uses that to motivate him over the rest of the season.

If he can maintain this high level, Arsenal will have the player that Manchester United had hoped they were getting when they signed the Armenian.

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