Arsene Wenger must feel he finds himself in an impossible situation. A real catch-22.
He works within his budgetary limits producing beautiful and consistent, if not winning, teams. He keeps Arsenal among the elite while they transition to a new self-funded stadium. Fans do not appreciate the austerity, having been spoiled by Wenger himself in the first decade under his reign. They plead for big name signings, some even call for his head.
Finally, he signs a world-class talent for a club record fee and takes his team on a run of form that sees them on top of the league for 20 of the 26 match days this season. This raises expectations so high that every dropped point results in a crisis. No wonder he did not make any big name signings in the January transfer window, if he did the whole of England would be ready to lynch him if Arsenal were not on course for a treble.
The fans have a right to expect a great deal from this Arsenal team, they have waited a long time for tangible success. And it is so close, this is the first really competitive Arsenal team since that unfortunate day in Paris, where they lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final. Since they have moved to the Emirates Stadium.
And what is the reaction of Arsenal fans after their latest match against Manchester United? They boo their team off the field.
Granted, the match was not an instant classic, but do vocal fans, like the belligerent Piers Morgan really fear the title challenge is over? That Arsenal might slip out of the top four? I admit I was disappointed at the final whistle, an indication of the expectation around this team, as well as the plight of the late, great Manchester United.
However, the boos were a step too far. The effort of the players was there, if not the creativity. The point that was gained did not warrant such a scathing response. Arsenal are one point off Chelsea at the top. For all the talk of Manchester City's free scoring dominance, they are still behind Arsenal.
There have been poor results along the way of course; the now infamous opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the 6-3 defeat at the Etihad, the abject 1-0 at Old Trafford, and the latest 5-1 mauling at Anfield.
However, the team has responded to them all, and are well in contention for the title and fighting on three fronts. What the team really need now, besides the swiftest of recoveries to Aaron Ramsey, is the support of the fans. It is the business end of the season, and the next month will go a long way to defining how successful this team will be.
The fans need to encourage the players, spur them to greater heights than they have already reached. The relationship between teams and fans goes two ways.
So far the team has given us what we have been waiting for since 2006, it is only fair we return the favour and back them all the way, right until the last match. This must start on Sunday with Arsenal entertaining Liverpool in the FA Cup, a perfect opportunity for revenge.
Keep the faith.
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