Is it the case that Spurs are overachieving? Are Liverpool under achieving? Are Chelsea in trouble? If these answers are yes then where does that place The Arsenal?
Spurs have more of a settled side and have yet to play a number of key games away from home. They have a decent core and are managing to collect points on a regular basis; this is not a case of ‘Arry being some kind of genius just a case that he has had a little bit of time with Spurs playing the perennial underdogs and therefore the level of pressure has been less. Spurs have also, as always, paid top dollar for players and been able to call upon players unwanted elsewhere. Therefore it may be disingenuous to suggest that they are over achieving.
Liverpool have, like Arsenal, been rebuilding. However having spent big and with some of the quality in their squad you would have to say that they are probably not doing as well as expected. Of course to overlook the absence of Gerard, who is pivotal to them (no suggestions of a one man team it seems) would be silly. His injury certainly has had an impact. The conundrum of Carroll, who was nowhere near a £35m player, is that you would have expected him to have had some joy against the less technical clubs but no such form has been forthcoming. The facts are that Liverpool have just drawn too many games and therefore they are operating currently on that ‘margin of error’ principle which is frustrating and ultimately chips away at any progress.
Chelsea are approaching a turning point as a club but you get the feeling that money talks and they will make the neccesary changes should they start to drift.
The two Manchester clubs would need to be viewed as a seperate entity at the moment.
So Are the Arsenal over or under achieving? We have lost more games than any other team in the top six yet we have been able to win a respectable 11 out of 20. But is respectable okay? Given that we are still burdened with a squad that comprises some players that we appear to be stuck with, given our ridiculous injury list, given the terrible start of the season I would say that we are probably doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
That a lot of supporters see the ambition for the season being to finish above Spurs is irritating; different clubs, different circumstances. Clearly we should be looking to finish in the top four and push on next season but we still need to look realistically at the FA Cup, and to an extent, The Champions League as attainable. If not, why bother?
I personally don’t care about what Spurs get up to; however, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to finish above them. But, I would take finishing fourth with a trophy any day; at least for this season.
I believe it is the 12/13 season that will be our defining season as those other teams around us consolidate and we, as a club, make a choice at the highest level whether we want to be one of the big boys or not and crucially if the changes that need to be made are faced up to.
For now we have to keep on truckin' and our home form may well be the decisive factor as most of the rest of the top six come visiting. And when they do, pondering the imponderables will be meaningless; results will mean everything.
We need to keep knocking on the door of achievement, because you never know, we might be let in.