Arsenal face waiting at least five years before any Premier League title challenge
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I got plenty of grief from Arsenal fans earlier this season because I refused to say they’d be title contenders on the back of a half-decent start.
Wins against Fulham and West Ham had them all giddy following victories over Liverpool in the Community Shield pre-season and Chelsea in the FA Cup final last time out.
And many Gooners, it seemed, were furious that I wouldn’t back their boys to win the Champions League, Kentucky Derby and Crufts next year as a result.
Anyone can turn round and say a team is good, bad or indifferent after a little run of games, though, that’s easy.
But my job is to take everything into account and forecast the medium and long terms.
And as Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by Wolves reiterated, not enough has changed that would make this season any different from all those other recent seasons at Arsenal.
Arteta's men were beaten at home once more
(Image: Julian Finney/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
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Mikel Arteta shares Thierry Henry's concern over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
So while it is okay for fans to start shouting, ‘This is it, we’re back, he’s my manager, he has turned the culture of our club around’, you do it after 25 games in March or April, not three weeks into a campaign.
It’s as if some at the Emirates didn’t learn a thing from Unai Emery’s stay — they were singing about having their Arsenal back after just a few weeks, if you remember, and look how that turned out.
The fact the Gunners have lost five of their first 10 matches this season tells you everything you need to know.
And it tells me that those who allowed themselves to get carried away under Emery and again under Arteta really don’t understand football.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's poor form continued on Sunday
(Image: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)
Hector Bellerin leaves the field after the defeat to Wolves
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The fact is we haven’t seen Arsenal compete for the title over the course of a season for 10 years, maybe more, so of course it’s going to take more than eight games to turn around.
And that’s why their fans need to pipe down with all this “he’s my manager” guff and just let Arteta get on with it.
As I’ve said already, I like what he has done to address things like professionalism and I like the fact he’s straight-speaking.
But neither of those things mean he has turned around the culture of the club and it’s the culture that’s the problem.
Daniel Podence and Wolves led the Gunners on a merry dance
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What I see in Arsenal now is a club who take one step forward and two back.
And until they can get to December 1 from an August start having lost just two games and kept a lot of clean sheets and put in performances week in, week out that are 8/10 or 9/10, then we shouldn’t be talking about them as title contenders.
Even then, we’ll still have to see if they can do the dirty, grotty stuff in March and April that Leicester’s Miracle Men showed they could do.
So it’ll be five years at least before Arsenal are title contenders again.
And what we’re seeing now is that, in 14th, they are exactly where they deserve to be.
They are yesterday’s club and we’re having a conversation about them every fortnight that they no longer deserve to part of.
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