Arsenal’s vicious cycle born from a culture of mediocrity

Arsenal suffered another humiliating away leg defeat against Bayern Munch.

You know when one of the free-to-air channels play a movie on their main channel one week and the next week you see it again on one of their sister channels?

“Wait a minute, didn’t I just watch this?”

Arsenal is the sporting representation of that movie, or hell anything you think you’ve seen over and over again. The same season playing out, year after year after year.

This morning in Munich, the Gunners let an encouraging 1-1 first half be completely overshadowed by a dismal second half collapse, conceding four-goals for an eventual 5-1 loss. The drubbing almost guarantees elimination from the Champions League at Bayern Munich’s hands once again.

Arjen Robben’s stunning opener after 11 minutes was cancelled out by Alexis Sanchez, who followed up his missed penalty with a clever tap past Manuel Neuer. The visitors had a few more chances to add a second goal before the half and despite surrendering nearly 80% of possession to the German giants, were creating chances and looking dangerous on the counter attack.

The second half was a typical Arsenal-like shambles as Laurent Koscielny was subbed off just after the break with a hamstring injury and in a 10-minute blitz, they lost the match and most likely the tie.

Goals in the 53th minute by Robert Lewandowski, the 56th minute by Thiago and in the 63th minute, again by Thiago, sealed Arsenal’s fate and just for good measure Thomas Muller came on as a substitute and added a fifth goal just before the final whistle.

Once again, their European vacation will come to an end in the Round of 16 at the Emirates, where insultingly they will probably defeat Bayern and fall on goal difference, just to rub it a little more.

It’s staggering and surely a statistical anomaly that Arsenal can play out the same seasons every single year. From the opening of the off-season transfer period to the final day of the Premier League, the Gunners’ follow the same storyline.


– Despite rumours claiming they have a war chest to spend on players, Arsenal wait forever to sign even a single player, leading to a late flurry as they scramble to add anyone available.

– Start the season slowly, drop a home game against a mediocre opponent, but recover after about six-weeks and loom in the periphery of the title chase. 

– Hit top gear and look irresistible. Blow away teams at the Emirates with perfect attacking creativity, maybe even claim a few top scalps. Hit December at or near the summit of the Premier League table.


– Lose a game against a battler in humiliating fashion setting off a mid-season collapse as the side goes into a tale spin, continuing to drop point as their biggest rivals pull away. Usually includes a big loss or two against some of those title rivals.

– Get embarrassed in the knockout stage in Europe, highlighting the gulf between the club and the very best on the continent.

– Unrest from the media and supporters grow, suggesting finally Arsene Wenger is well and truly on the hot seat and on his way out.


– After being all but mathematically eliminated from the title race, return to top form and surge home to secure a top four spot, letting the owners know everything is right with the world.

– Supporters assure themselves they’re only a few players away and are promised a spending spree in the next transfer window.

– Repeat the cycle.

That right there is the modern Arsenal in a nutshell and it’s not hard to explain why this keeps happening.

The prime candidate is Wenger, a manager who has earned enough credits with fans and the board to survive an incredibly long trophy drought and despite claiming two FA Cups over the past three years, still cannot build a side capable of sustaining a title run for 38-games. However, as the seasons progress and a battle for the top four becomes the norm, there are even deeper issues with Arsenal beyond the manager.

Make no mistake, Wenger is not without blame, however he is the public face of a football administration which has no ambition and doesn’t care about success, on the field. To them, Arsenal is not a football club, it’s a business and is run as such. Led by an ownership group which value profits and revenue over trophies and on-field reputation.

Anyone who follows the NFL will know more about Stan Kroenke’s work than just at Arsenal as owner of the Los Angeles Rams. He’s a businessman who see his sporting clubs as being no different to any other business investment he has ever made. They are designed to make money and in Arsenal’s current state, it’s perfect.

Wenger is a manager who either doesn’t have the capabilities or the permission to properly spend on a title winning squad, yet he somehow manages every year to guarantee a UCL spot and the added windfall that goes with it. The board earn the spoils from Europe, yet are never forced to overspend on players.

The Gunners do just enough every year to maintain a restful fan base, which pay higher prices than any other supporter group in England. Sure, they occasionally get angry and maybe they even start some fake, useless protests, but they will keep coming back, maintaining that bottom line.

The one minor difference this year is the genuine discontent bubbling away aimed at Wenger and rumours are a lot stronger that his time in London may be coming to an end, but not only is that hard to believe from history, it won’t even fix what’s wrong with Arsenal.

It’s a team built on mediocrity that has no desire to actually challenge for titles. This mentality has seeped down from the owners, to the coaches and the players, even Sanchez has realised that, and for his own sake should leave as soon as his contract is up.

We all know how the movie starts and ends, but until major changes are made, the Arsenal story will be the same as last year, and the year before, and the year before that…