It’s been nine consecutive months since everyone has been “auguring” a potential Leicester City slip-up.
Every other genuine contender has either undergone a major blip in form (Arsenal, Manchester City) or faded away during that time (Manchester United were league leaders in October) but the Foxes haven’t, and marching as Tottenham Hotspur are, how have they managed to not top the table once despite the best offensive and defensive record is now a part of the North London folklore, one that Arsenal fans – the noisy neighbours – derive great schadenfreude out of, even if it means forgetting the fact that the Gunners themselves are a long way away from beating their bitter rivals to the second spot, let alone looking to regain the top spot, which now appears to be all but sealed with Leicester City’s 1-0 victory over Southampton.
Leicester are four wins away from one of Football’s greatest triumphs; Arsenal, on the other hand, are looking to make it seven wins in seven to wave farewell to another jejune season with one of Football’s most poignant winning streaks.
Arsenal virtually have nothing left to look forward to, having already exited the Champions League in the Round of 16 and the FA Cup in the Quarter Finals (this one’s still a mystery).
Perhaps, Arsene Wenger can – while ensuring that his squad remains focused and ready to pounce just in case an opportunity arises this season – use this relatively meaningless phase to plan for what comes next.
He may be reluctant to accept the fact (publicly) that the title race has passed eventide and is beginning to settle down in the parclose, but deep down, the realisation that it’s another season gone wasted does exist, which is why it’s important that the Frenchman gets working on next season already.
2016/17, like the current season would be no ordinary season.
There’ll be some of the sport’s greatest ever managers in Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and some fast-improving future greats in Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman ready to fight for the league with what would be top-top squads the following season.
Imagine the present-day Arsenal coming up against Pep’s Manchester City or Conte’s Chelsea – they’d be torn to smidgens within minutes.
The reason for that is while these clubs will already have drawn up their strategies and assembled most of their squad by the start of the season, Arsenal would still be mulling about whether to go into the transfer market or not, whether to offload someone or not, and all they end up doing is nothing.
It’s the same unprepared squad, lacking direction, a squad with loads of baggage and fainéants in the dressing room who only are a negative influence on the younger players too.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t probably understand why it’s important to get rid of players at times.
When Pep Guardiola was appointed at FC Barcelona, the first thing he did was showing Deco and Ronaldinho the exit door.
He had no second opinion about his decision.
It was a simple and straight deal for him – they were not doing what was expected of them and so they had to go.
It’s time Wenger did the same too and made the decision, because if he doesn’t do it now, he’ll not be able to replace them either.
Also, unlike some of the previous seasons, Wenger can probably dig deep into the transfer market early rather than disappearing somewhere in Prague to avoid any questions relating to Arsenal’s transfer activity, or the lack thereof.
All the top clubs in the world get a majority of their business done early so as to be a step ahead of their rivals and the same goes for the Gunners too – get your transfer targets assessed, lay the transfer strategy down and go for your targets; no one needs to listen to the Frenchman’s age-old excuse about the squad having enough, which he himself know it doesn’t.
Arsenal have always left it too late, may it be gaining form and consistency or preparing for what comes next.
As has been stated several times, next season will be extremely tough, one that’ll be defined by outthinking each other and acting first, the opportunity to do which rests nicely in the Gunners’ hands in a phase wherein there’s virtually nothing to left look forward to.
They definitely don’t want another such phase, do they?