Arsenal players need to keep their eyes on the prize

Over the past seven years Arsenal has unfortunately been labeled as chokers by supporters of many other teams and it’s becomingly increasingly hard to argue the point with them. However, the club will have an excellent opportunity to shake the monkey off their back on Sunday when they head to West Brom for the season finale.

They can only blame themselves for the predicament they’re in, but there’s no point crying over spilt milk at this point. What’s done is done and all eyes need to be focused on the prize, which is really a third-place finish and a guaranteed berth in next season’s Champions League.

Everybody knows the situation by now and the ramifications it presents, but it’s definitely been a busy week off the pitch, making it a little harder for some players to concentrate on the task at hand. There have been the usual rumours about players coming and going with no sign of evidence or proof to back them up.

One of the latest involves Manchester United preparing to swoop down for Robin van Persie during the summer. This means they have to join in queue with Man City, Real Madrid, and Juventus. There’s not much point taking any stock in the endless rumours though. Whatever’s going to happen will happen and if and when anything does take place, then it’ll be something concrete to report on and debate.

The most interesting Arsenal story to many supporters isn’t going to take place until Sunday afternoon at the Hawthorns. For some people, the season won’t be considered a success or a failure until this game is finished and the final standings are in. However, what’s going to be the most interesting facet of this game, regardless of the score, is what type of mental and physical effort and performance the Gunners put into the game.

For instance, will they be nervous or confident? Will they be adventurous or defensive?  Will Wenger go with experience or youth, etc? The manger could decide that his more experienced players have a better chance of getting the job done while youngsters such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wait in the wings just in case they’re needed.

These are hard decisions for a manager to make before a big game, but are easy for supporters to second guess after the fact. I suppose, that’s why guys like Wenger are paid the big money, to make sure they get it right in the first place.

There’s not really much to do now though other than wait for the kickoff and debate amongst yourselves who Wenger should choose as his starting 11 and who should be sitting on the subs’ bench. It’s usually better to do this before the game rather than after it. Anybody can pick the winning lottery numbers after they’ve been drawn.

Whatever happens on Sunday will depend on the men in the Arsenal shirts, not those in Spurs or Newcastle uniforms. It’s an ideal setting to rid themselves of their choker’s label.


From Peterborough, just about 60 minutes from Arsenal's ground. I remember going to Highbury when growing up and after my Uncle's stepson Mark Heeley joined the Gunners from Peterborough when he was just 17 back in the 1970s. Currently cover sports (mainly football, boxing, and ice hockey) for various sites and magazines. Still see most of the games when in Canada. In fact, they get more EPL matches there than in Britain.