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Not-So-Bold Prediction: Arsenal Will Finish Trophyless

I think we can all agree that there is no way Arsenal is going to win the Premiership this year, which is something I said before Christmas, even when Arsenal were playing incredibly well and sat on top of the table. Going winless in five straight league games, particularly at this point in the season, like Arsenal has done can effectively end any team’s title hopes with the top-heavy structure of the Premiership.

The six point gap between the Gunners and defending champions Manchester United isn’t a huge problem in itself, but the fact that Chelsea is now sandwiched between the two teams complicates things and so does the fact that Arsenal has to visit Old Trafford on April 13, where United has lost only once all season. If Arsenal was to win that game, then we could talk, but I just don’t see it happening. Even if they did win, they’d still need to make up another three points on United, and with opponents like Middlesbrough, Blackburn, West Ham, and Wigan still remaining for the Red Devils, that’s not likely. United also has a far superior goal differential than Arsenal, and although it’s the silliest, most ridiculous tiebreaker I’ve ever heard of, it still is the tiebreaker.

Ok, so as I said, it’s highly unlikely that Arsenal will win the Premiership. As the Gunners have crashed out of both the FA Cup and Carling Cup, that leaves the Champions League as their last chance at silverware this season.

Their opponent in the quarterfinal round is Liverpool, who, despite all of their flaws in the Premiership, are EXTREMELY difficult to beat in the Champions League and will give Arsenal fits. In fact, I believe Liverpool will knock Arsenal out but to be fair, I’ve been wrong on numerous occasions before.

Arsene Wenger has never won a Champions League or a UEFA Cup as a manager, although he has a runner-up finish in both competitions. Rafa Benitez is well-known as a master tactician in Europe and has both a Champions League title and a UEFA Cup title to his name, the latter of which came at Valencia.

As a team, Liverpool has more Champions League experience (by far) than Arsenal with Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Jose Reina, Xabi Alonso, Steve Finnan, and others on the roster. Unlike AC Milan, another team with plenty of experience in Europe’s biggest club competition, Liverpool isn’t full of players in their 30’s who just can’t match Arsenal’s pace and quickness.

Oh, and don’t for a second underestimate the advantage of Anfield on a European night. The Scousers will be rocking and singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” until the cows come home, and I’m not sure if Arsenal will be able to overcome the emotion of the crowd when the two teams meet.

No, I just don’t think Arsenal will progress past Liverpool. If they do, well done, jolly good and all that, but then they’d have to deal with Chelsea, and we saw what happened when those two teams met on Sunday. Avram Grant looks as if he’s starting to understand this whole managerial thing and he’s picking the best lineup to give his team a chance to win, something he hasn’t always done.

Arsenal will finish the year trophyless. Ordinarily, that would be OK; you wouldn’t even need a full hand to count how many teams actually win something in Europe’s top three domestic leagues, the Champions League, and the UEFA Cup and not winning doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean you had a bad season. However, with the way Arsenal started the year, you would have to say it would be a disappointing season if Arsenal were to not win any silverware.

No, the Emirates Cup doesn’t count, nice try.

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  1. JLay

    March 27, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Another point on GD- it’s Goal Differential, not goals scored. Playing good defense helps your GD just as surely as scoring does.

    Just look at Tottenham, who have the 2nd highest goal total- and the 4th worst defense. For all of their scoring prowess, their GD is a paltry +9.

    Finally, please stop the attacks on the people who take their time to contribute something to this community- Michael doesn’t get paid to do this, and while you’re free to disagree with his opinions, that doesn’t give you the right to attck him personally.

    Besides, it’s not his fault that your team sucks…

  2. Alex Hleb

    March 26, 2008 at 1:48 pm


  3. Dave M

    March 26, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Michael, thanks for posting the link – I read your earlier post on the subject.

    I just can’t agree that goal differential can simply be dismissed as “semantical”. Sure, it sounds like an arcane accounting stat, but it’s really the sum of your play throughout the year – how well you defended and how deadly you were in attack. It is NOT value neutral – it is empirically representative of better played football. In your example of Bolton making the UEFA cup – should they have been penalised for having a negative gd (assuming they finished tied with another team)? Absolutely! There are guardians of the game, and in their infinite wisdom they have chosen to reward the team that scores lots of goals. If my team defends well all season and also puts more in the net than your team, shouldn’t my team be rewarded? Emphatically!

    All of these teams were aware of the rules when the season began – it was no surprise to Sheffield United that they were in danger of going down for having a poor GD – and being aware of it, they tried to score more while working for clean sheets. They lost that battle as surely as if they had gone down on points.

  4. Alex Hleb

    March 26, 2008 at 3:26 am

    gee michael and i thought you were an arsenal fan

  5. Baz

    March 25, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    It was said somewhere on this site a year ago that it was inevitable that Arsenal would fall into American (Kroenke) ownership. Well that has not happened. I always feel that a lot of the blogs on this site are just cobbled from bits and pieces from more renowned sites and the author just takes his lead from that. So now, all the journos are saying that Arsenal won’t win the league so the author of this blog has taken his lead from that.
    No one likes to see their teams hopes written off. But that’s why we follow the Arsenal. Someone should tell Michael about 1989.

  6. Simon Burke

    March 25, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Funnily enough Michael, i normally do skip your articles for that reason. Thankyou for helping make that point.

  7. Michael

    March 25, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Dave, the hyperlink I used in my last comment doesn’t work, so if you’re interested, try this:

  8. Michael

    March 25, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Dave, back in November I wrote a whole post about tiebreaking procedures and how silly it was to use goal differential. It rewards teams who score a lot of goals and punishes teams who can be successful playing a defensive-minded or low-scoring style, like Bolton, who finished in a UEFA Cup spot last year despite a negative goal differential.

    If you want to read my views concerning this topic in full, go to I have different solutions for what could happen when teams finish tied on points and yes, head-to-head results is one of the them. I just don’t want to see meaningful places (Champion, Champions League, UEFA Cup, relegation) come down to something as semantical as goal differential.

    Simon, I could care less if I’m popular or unpopular. I don’t write articles to be liked by those who read them, I write whatever is on my mind at the time and if people don’t like me for it and don’t agree with what I say, fine, that’s their prerogative. I certainly don’t like journalists like Jay Mariotti, for example, but I’ll still read his work. If you don’t like the way I present what I write, again, it’s your prerogative to not read the article.

  9. Simon Burke

    March 25, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Oh Christ, Michael has his axe to grind – pointless article. I dont particularly disagree with it but its written out of malice rather than anything resembling journalistic integrity. Remember this is the idiot a few weeks who during the Villa game sang about his predicting ability and rubbed it in as Arsenal were on the verge of losing to Villa – only for Arsenal to score ten seconds after he presed submit and show him up.

    Its not so much your content Michael which is at fault but the manner in which you write it that makes you unpopular. Your writing style is so deliberately antagonistic that I feel dirty when I find myself agreeing with you on some points.

  10. Dave M

    March 25, 2008 at 10:01 am

    What’s so silly about goal differential? You have to agree to encourages goals, and goals = exciting, fan-friendly sport.

    What do you favour? Head-to-head results? Aren’t the boring, Champions League “just don’t concede” affairs enough to tell you how bad an idea that would be?

  11. Tony Heywood

    March 25, 2008 at 7:45 am

    I think the League is gone and that Man UTD will win it but as for the CL I am sure Arsenal will beat Liverpool and then hopefully dump out Chelsea!

  12. Goonerbeall

    March 25, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Maybe you had a point in your prediction due to your psychic power. you were able to predict that Van Persie, Rossicky and Edouardo were to be out for a while which rendered the team toothless.

    There is however something about you that tells me you have pleasure in that outcome than mere coincidence. For me as an Arsenal man meaning that i have no any other lingering loyalty to any other team, i find pleasure in the fact that we have been there and actually challenged in spite of our thin inexperienced squad. I mean we have a manager who thinks he can tweak the team and refuses to buy when he has money and fail to see what is obvious.

    What is obvious is that our defence is really not up to it any longer. Alongside that our midfield is also not that strong. Imagine over-work by Cesc and Flamini against Lampard, Ballack and Makelele with occasional help from Essien. All this linking with Drogba and Kalou with reinforcement by Anelka. If that is not a reason for a total a massive recruitment I dont know what will.

  13. Ferd

    March 25, 2008 at 5:20 am

    Many people at the start of the year predicted Arsenal to finish outside of the top four with Spurs likey to end in a higher position. The fact that Arsenal remained on top of the league as long as they did is quite amazing. Arsenal is really quite thin and with vPersie missing most of the season, Rosicky out for long spells, and the loss of Eduardo, I think the team is just running out of gas. Every team deals wih injuries so I am not using as an excuse however I think even if Arsenal go without a trophy this should be regarded as a fine season. I also think Arsenal has a good shot of beating Liverpool in the CL.

  14. Ivan

    March 25, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Liverpool’s first team is good enough to win the UCL. Not putting my head on the line by saying depth wise both Liverpool and Arsenal have some way to go. Agger’s injury i believe has effected Liverpool more than it seems although Skrtel has come in and has done reasonably well. Finnan who is 31 has been no where as good as he was last year and Carragher who is also 30 is found wanting at times.

    In the break both managers have work to do. Rafa needs to add more quality and Wenger should be looking to do the same. Hopefully Wenger will concede that his squad just ain’t good enough at this moment in time and will spend some dough. Rafa has one more season in my book….

  15. CaribKid

    March 25, 2008 at 12:21 am

    I actually very strongly believe we will beat Liverpool in the CL. We have the speed and agility to defend against Liverpool who does not have the capability to attack centrally through the air like Chelsea. Peter Crouch could give us problems but most likely will only feature in cameo performances.

    We also have the stamina and pace over time to break them down late in the game. A draw away and a win at the Emirates is definitely doable.

    Your point was mainly centered on the fact that Liverpool is well suited for the CL, but in fact when we play it will be just like an EPL game. Also, the current Arsenal side is better suited to playing the La Liga and Serie A teams than in the EPL due to their lack of height in both the midfield and defensive back four.

    I am not willing to concede the CL Trophy as yet even though my fear is we will have to go through Manu to do so. In all regards, Manu creates all types of problems for us this year in match ups because of Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo.

    No predictions here, but only time will tell.

  16. James

    March 24, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Yes, not-so-bold prediction isn’t it.

    It’s what the rest of the media are saying.

    I suppose the sky is blue, and people get wet when it rains as well.

    Although I wouldn’t be disappointed in Arsenal not winning a trophy this season.

    I remember pre-season, the media was saying how Arsenal weren’t even going to get 4th spot.

    I’d say they had a pretty good go at the past season.

    Although to a fan, the whole “punching above their weight” thing is starting to wear a little thin… I’d like them to actually win something.

  17. sggooner

    March 24, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Not all. I think it’s the same for every other club fans. And I would somehow agree with the article but let’s be positive. If we really end up trophyless, the season itself is not a lost. We have shown we can live without Henry but AW needs to know we need to strengthen for next season..

  18. kat kid

    March 24, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    gunners fans are annoying rich kids.

  19. kush

    March 24, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Mate i think arsenal have a genuine chance in champions league. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IS A CUP COMPETITION ,different ballgame altogether . NOW more focus on champions league
    for Arsenal if Robin Van Persie comes back to touch we will start scoring as there is too much load on Adebayor he has the most starts this season than
    any other top players on other clubs

  20. The Special One

    March 24, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Shut Up, Wenger!

  21. Michael

    March 24, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Jeff, I’m not your “mate”.

    Thank you both for the kind words, your maturity clearly shows through.

  22. Vince

    March 24, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Your article sucks.

  23. Jeff

    March 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Fuck you mate! And you’re rubbish article! You silly little twat!

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