From Martin :
There was a reason we all stated it was a 3 year rebuild before season kicked off as we all understood what Wengers gift to Emery was, a squad lacking depth and overall quality.
Emery has juggled frantically trying to wring all he can out of this squad and despite season ending injuries to two young players showing glimpses of a brighter future, and having to manage the Ozil / Ramsey debacle, momentum has been kept in both the league and the Europa Cup.
The hope was that this could be sustained till the season end but as is always the way, the amount of games compresses at the business end of season and this squad has just run out of gas, its simply not talented or deep enough to see it out successfully.
Another added dimension is that with the money in football now the teams below the top 6 have far better squads than ever before and at this time of the season, where they are just competing in the league ,they tend to have a full weeks preparation.
So they come flying out of the gate, sustain that energy throughout a game, and have improved talent to score the goals and win the game.
It’s not just Arsenal.
Spurs, who have a far deeper squad, look leggy.
Man United and Chelsea are mirrors of Arsenal, struggling to cope with the energy and drive of teams like Burnley, Wolves, Leicester, Watford, and Everton. These sides, with no pressures, are fresh and not short of talent.
Of course Man City and Liverpool are countering these comments as they go home and away and find ways to win regardless, but they are equipped. If they lose Kevin De Bruyne, you bring on David Silva, who has just had to step past Sane, Jesus, Otamendi, Mahrez, Foden and Stones to get on the pitch. All would have started for Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea this weekend!
The Arsenal bench had Elneny, Nketiah, Willock, Guendozi, Mavrapanos and Koscielny. Though a couple there might have decent careers to come, it’s hardly comparable.
Maitland-Niles was very hard done by with that red but he has been leggy for a while and is a makeshift fullback.
The best players this year have been Emery players: Torreira and Guendouzi (played great for his age, but games definitely caught up with him)
Have seen some criticism of Emery and shake my head? Whats he supposed to do? He has a squad that’s thin and has limited elite talent and it’s tired.
Stick our best XI on the pitch when they are fresh and you get the team that beat Spurs so convincingly this year.
But the season is long and hard and with the increase in overall talent, the rested middle tier of teams are raring to feast on any weakness come the final run-in.
Outside of the top two, the best of the rest are Spurs are have lost 12 games this season.
Yes 12 games! But they are 3rd! It’s a tough tough league and City and Liverpool have distorted that as being the case, it really does make the next 4 teams look worse than they are.
The truth lies somewhere in between. Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and even Spurs have quite a bit of improvement to make. But that the teams that lie 7-12 are really decent and strong football teams. No game in Premier League is easy and it really should be around the 80 points mark for the winners and not the near 100 points the other two have accrued.
It will be more of the same next season, no way City ever fall off the pace, its for others to improve and for Liverpool to sustain, though you suspect that’s less likely and they get dragged back into the 2-6 place contest.
On Arsenal, I feel strongly that Emery has done all he can with the squad he has and that our pre-season assertions that Wenger left the cupboard bare has been proven more than correct and that 3 years is minimum to get Arsenal on front foot again.
Guardiola had same issues at City and struggled originally but the difference is he was given huge funds that accelerated the change. Unlike Mourinho, he has a better eye in spending that investment.
Arsenal now need to throw all their eggs in the Europa Cup basket as Burnley is their last game of the season. That’s not a game I think they can win if they really needed to.
But three good cup performances would make the season a success.