Why Arsenal deserve to be bottom of the league

OPINION: The choices and strategies taken over the past year would make it unfair if the Gunners sat above any other team

Thursday, 2nd September 2021 — By Richard Osley


THERE’S an awful and recurring phrase in football which sees commentators decide that a club needs to get back up to where it “deserves to be”.

It is applied to many teams: you will hear about some fans “deserving” to see their team in the Premier League or the Champions League, or winning trophies.

Quite what these supporters have done to make them more deserving than supporters from any other town or city is never made clear, but come the third round of the FA Cup or some such occasion you’ll hear about a sleeping giant which “deserves” to be back where they belong.

It’s a well-run club. The fans are fantastic. They love their football. They deserve to be getting back up there.

Pick a city: Bristol, Nottingham, Sheffield, Sunderland, the refrain will be the same.

You wonder how big the top league will be if all the teams that “deserve” to be there are included.

The only possible flipside of this must mean that some clubs don’t deserve to be in the top league. I guess there is a case for Stoke City but surely everybody else deserves to see their team do well as much as the rest. We were all lucky enough, by chance, to grow up in north London and have Arsenal (and Spurs, if that’s your poison) on the doorstep.

The local team happened to be pretty good, but however many scarves or replica shirts you buy, what really makes you “deserve” it more than the kids in Southend? Or Shrewsbury? Or the junior gulls at Torquay United wishing one day that top-flight football will come to Devon.

What did the good people of Rotherham do wrong to not deserve to have a cup-winning football team?

Maybe, and I know this is controversial opinion, it should just be the best team that deserves to do well (and hopefully not one artifically doped by finance).

And as loyal as the fans have been in travelling around despite the minimal prospects of watching a success, surely we can all agree that Arsenal as a club do not deserve to be higher than 20th place in the league table right now.

The sequences of choices and strategies taken over the past year would make it unfair if they sat above any other team. The sale of Martinez, the signing of Willian, the new contract for Xhaka, the list goes on.

The malaise could not have been better illustrated than Xhaka’s red card against Manchester City on Saturday. The experienced pro – forever the chosen one – getting sent off in the heat of the battle.

Arsenal lost their first three matches without any fight. They had, by the way, lost most of their pre-season matches too. As each dismal defeat passes, they should be mindful of the once great clubs who “deserve” to be at the top, but now live down the divisions.

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