Wednesday, 10 April 2013


"Greatness is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has overcome to reach his goals" -Dorothy Height

Muhammad Ali’s greatness was about many things: charisma, ability, cultural significance, power and technique, his greatness was also measurable in terms of his opponents. Ali existed in an era of supreme competition. Foreman, Frazier, Norton, Patterson, Liston, were all there in front of Ali and he still retained a place at the summit. In that context the Arsenal’s classic teams were competing against other great teams; a Manchester United side that is probably the best in their history and the Liverpool sides that made Anfield a fortress. The Arsenal won things consistently in a Premier League era where teams like Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Villa, Blackburn and many others had sides were far better than the current versions.

The great teams to compete against are currently not in our domestic league; they are in Europe. The rarefied atmosphere that greatness really exists in is the late stages of the Champions League. To be great at this moment in time means to be competing on an equal footing with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Dortmund.

The soon to be Premier Champions  reflect the relative qualities of the Premier League and perhaps we are currently of commensurate quality to the league we play in. What we need to do, as I believe all other Premier League clubs should, is to aspire to greatness. Certainly with the vast amount of money flooding in to the league next term there has to be a move towards this aspiration.

The 2013/14 season looks like being a huge season for a number of clubs. Chelsea will be appointing a new manager, Manchester City will be looking to wrestle back the title, Liverpool will have given Rodgers his first season and be looking at him to deliver, Spurs’ season may rest upon whether they qualify for the ECL or have won the Europa: certainly AVB will be expected to build upon his first season, Everton’s 2013/14 is all about life with or without Moyes,  Manchester United will probably look at a last opportunity for Ferguson to get that third Champions League trophy, Swansea will be expected to push for a top four finish and the fight to stay in the league will be even fiercer given the financial stakes.

And what of Arsenal? Wenger’s final contracted season may see a do or die attitude or will it be about leaving a sustainable legacy? Who knows what will happen. I certainly don’t.

We can certainly do no more than keep our momentum going for the final few games and ignore what others are doing; the one game at a time mantra has never been more apropos.

What is clear is that next season is a pivotal season for the Arsenal; that’s something that is often said but this time it’s actually true. Whether it’s in the Champions League, The Europa League, The Premier league, The FA Cup or the League Cup  What the Arsenal need to do is reach for greatness and in order to do that it must be at the expense of the mediocre not because of the mediocre.

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