The top four over the last few seasons has come under intense pressure from the ‘lesser’ teams; firstly there was Aston Villa attempting to ruin the party, then eventually Tottenham Hotspur ousted Liverpool and got a taste of Champions League football and this season the Lilywhites missed out to Manchester City. Already, speculation has begun on who will be next season’s top four, especially as Arsenal appear to be getting weaker with each season that passes. This season, I think the Gunners became the first team ever to finish fourth in a two horse race! Liverpool‘s new found resurgence saw them very nearly break back into the top four, after a horrendous beginning to this season under Roy Hodgson. Everything is in place at Anfield for a very successful 2011/12 season, starting with reclaiming their Champions League berth from Arsenal, and this is why (in this humble writer’s opinion).
1) Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri want to leave, and both players are exceptional talents, with Nasri taking the Spaniard’s mantle as Arsenal’s main star whilst the Spaniard sent flirty text messages to Pique from the treatment room. Both players’ decisions to openly state that they would happily leave Arsenal shows how little faith they have in the Gunners ability to challenge for the major honours; losing two influential players will rock Arsenal and no wonder kid signing from France can help fill the void or maintain their Champions League status.
2) Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson and, erm, Carl Jenkinson: not hard to work out who Arsenal signed is it? As Liverpool continue splashing the cash despite spending nearly £60 million on two signings in January, Arsene Wenger maintains his usual transfer policy despite all his promises that Arsenal will spend big in the transfer market. With very little happening at the Emirates and everything happening on Merseyside, Liverpool are very much a team preparing for Champions League qualification next season.
3) Belief is a huge part of achieving success in football and no matter what Liverpool and their fans have always believed, their club can achieve greatness and reclaim the glory days of the ’80s. Nothing has changed this season, and next season the belief will no doubt get stronger. It’s a different story over in North London; with players clearly displaying lack of belief on the pitch, the fans are quite rightly loathing their team’s performances and now many are questioning Arsene Wenger, Le Professeur, himself. Arsenal are a team heading for turmoil if they aren’t careful; missing out on Champions League football could be the least of their worries.
4) Arsenal shareholder Stan Kroenke has recently improved his stake in the club and has announced he intends to invest in the club, yet the Gunners’ board over the past few seasons has yet to show any signs of following this kind of ethos, and the fans will of course be reluctant to naïvely swallow this up. Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group, on the other hand, have already invested heavily in the squad and the club set-up. But this is not all about financial investment, the American group has had great success with their innovation in sports management and was recently named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in sports by Fast Company, a renowned American journalism group.
Article courtesy of Daniel Blazer at Football FanCast