Nasri was right last week when he insisted we had made progress as a team and were playing with greater maturity over the season. He was right also to claim that but for an injury blight that even by recent standards was pretty dire maybe that progress would have manifested itself in more definite way than the third place we ultimately achieved.
There are those who will claim that our injuries aren`t just bad luck and that somehow there is some malfunction in our physio or medical teams that plays a primary role in exacerbating if not creating the situation. As the most significant injuries have been impact injuries to key players at key times it`s a pretty hopeless argument to justify. We`ve been unlucky and no matter how many times we were to seek to change our medical team it wouldn`t change that simple fact.
Wenger said earlier in the season that the title would be won with around 86 points. That was still just about achievable even after a run of 6 straight PL wins was cruelly ended by a late fluke goal at Birmingham. The footballing gods hadn`t finished with us even then as the next game, a spirited draw with Barcelona, was to deprive us of the massively influential Fabregas while both Song and Denilson were also destined to play little part in the rest of the season. With only Diaby left, of a quartet that augmented with Ramsey had made up our midfield three, playing a full part then it isn`t a complete surprise that the challenge of winning all 6 remaining PL games proved beyond us. The seven points out of 18 collected left us 11 points short of losing the title to Chelsea on goal difference.
The disappointment of losing somewhat tamely to Wigan and Blackburn in quick succession soured many supporters` previously positive sentiments towards a season in which it was generally accepted that we were defying the gods, as well as the odds, to stay in contention as long as we were. In consequence the attitude towards the team, amid accusations of a lack of endeavour, then took a slightly girly tone amounting to something along the lines of “You wouldn`t treat me this way if you really cared!” Once the chance of reaching the 86 point total had gone in what was a good performance in defeat to Spurs then the team visibly flagged under the weight of a depleted midfield compounded by the absence of both first choice centre backs, plus the previously unimaginable lack of participation of Almunia, despite the welcome return of van Persie. It shouldn`t happen and what we had left in the squad should have earned us more points but victory against Wigan, City and Blackburn would still only have earned us third place. By then we were destined only to be the 3rd best team in the PL whatever happened.
It is taken for granted now that we deserve a CL place as a right and little account is taken of the quality needed in the team to achieve that, let alone the quality of the management to do so as consistently as we have done, but in a way that is acknowledgement itself of just how much progress we have made. There are decisions to make to strengthen our ability to continue to challenge with increasing effect but the progress we have made as a club has ensured that we won`t lack the resources, relative to our peers, to make those decisions and sustain our aspirations. Despite all those resources and all the quality we do have and can acquire we`ll need for fortune not to desert us quite as brazenly as it has done this season if we are to triumph.
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