The most damning indictment of the Venky’s regime that took Blackburn Rovers down from the Premier League at the start of the decade (and still has not taken them back up again) was that they allegedly did not know that relegation from the Premier League was even a possibility until after they had taken over. Apparently, they had wrongly assumed that Blackburn’s place in the Premier League was permanent. Given Arsenal’s disastrous and currently unchecked slide down the Premier League table, the question has to be asked of their owners, the Kroenkes: do they know that Arsenal can be relegated? Because if things do not improve at The Emirates very soon, then relegation could become a genuine possibility.
The Kroenkes Need to Realise Arsenal Could be Relegated
Brighton Defeat Just the Latest Debacle
After their 2-1 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, Arsenal are being overwhelmed by a blizzard of bad, even historically bad, statistics: no wins now in any competition in nine games; the worst run of results since 1977; and so on. However, the single-most-important statistic about the club by far is that for the first time in over a hundred years, since gaining promotion to the English top-flight in 1919, Arsenal could be facing the genuine prospect of relegation.
It is not alarmist, or fanciful, to say that. After losing to Brighton, Arsenal are currently 10th in the table – exactly midway – but they are only five points above Everton, who are currently third-bottom. Worse still, in their last seven Premier League games, the Gunners have collected only four points from four draws. So, in the form table for those last seven games, they are languishing in 14th and, crucially, the six teams below them have all gained four points as well. That shows that no team has yet been cut adrift and that Arsenal’s form really is as bad as those of the worst-performing teams in the division.
Arsenal Have All the Fighting Qualities of a Dead Dog
However, even more appalling than Arsenal’s current lack of form is their long-term lack of fight. Relegation struggles are always couched in precisely those terms, as ‘struggles’, or ‘scraps’, or even ‘dogfights’. Well, right now, Arsenal have all the fighting qualities of a dead dog. As a result, they are uniquely vulnerable to contending with ‘relegation rivals’, those teams (such as the newly promoted sides) that always thought they were likely to struggle at the foot of the table and so have been prepared for such a grim scenario right from the start of the season.
Plenty of People are to Blame…
The blame for Arsenal’s predicament can be fairly shared around. Arsene Wenger bears much of the responsibility. Having effected a wholly positive change in the Arsenal culture or identity in his first decade in charge (showing that Arsenal could not only win trophies, as they had done throughout the 20th century, but do so in style), he also presided over a wholly negative change in the club’s culture or identity in his second decade in charge. He either minimised or completely abandoned the importance of defending to the extent that the traditional values of the club – resilience, doggedness and, yes, defensive soundness of the kind that led to all those chants of ‘Boring, Boring Arsenal!’ by fans of other clubs – appear to have been completely lost.
Of course, Unai Emery completely failed to rectify the defensive shortcomings that had been evident for at least the last decade of Wenger’s tenure. Under Emery, Arsenal continued to concede goals. Indeed, it was arguably only the spectacular success of the front two last season – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – that offset the ominous shortcomings behind them, especially in central defence and central midfield. However, then came the Bashing in Baku (aka the Europa League final thrashing by Chelsea), which once again completely exposed the team’s defensive weaknesses.
Incredibly, rather than Arsenal and Emery doing the absolutely bleeding obvious and spending big on buying a new defence, especially when the club’s best two defenders (Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal) were allowed to leave in the summer, that money was instead spent on acquiring an entirely unnecessary winger like Nicolas Pepe. In addition, Pepe’s arrival seems to have upset the one part of the team that was functioning – the attack – so much so that thus far this season Aubameyang and Lacazette have shown little of their goal-scoring form from last season.
…but Ultimately It’s on the Shonky Kroenkes
However, the biggest culprits by far in the long-term decline of Arsenal, especially defensively, are the Kroenkes (or the Shonky Kroenkes, as they are increasingly being referred to by Arsenal fans). In their ten years in charge of the club, they have overseen a gradual but now rapidly accelerating deterioration. Indeed, apart from the three FA Cup wins in four seasons between 2014 and 2017, which were wonderful at the time but ultimately did not lead to the longed-for improvement in Premier League and Champions League form, it is hard to point to anything about their reign that is positive.
The Kroenkes appear to be the absolutely worst kind of absentee landlords, allowing Wenger to massively outstay his time and welcome at the club before allowing Raul Sanllehi, a man whose background is in football finance rather than football performance, to appoint Unai Emery, who apparently required a translator at his initial interview because his English was so poor.
So complete and absolute appears to be the Kroenkes’ lack of knowledge about football in general and Arsenal in particular that it is perhaps legitimate to ask whether they actually realise that Arsenal can be relegated from the Premier League. If they didn’t already, they should realise now that it is a possibility, especially with games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United coming up before a new manager (if he is ever appointed, and it has now been more than a week since Emery’s dismissal) can set about trying to buy a new defence, and in particular at least two decent central defenders, in the January transfer window.
The Kroenkes are the Worst Kind of Mercenary Capitalists
Arsenal fans have long loathed the Kroenkes, for appearing to be exactly the kind of mercenary capitalists who have only bought into football because of the apparently easy money on offer. The irony is that they are not even successful mercenary capitalists, because their mismanagement of the club has been so great, culminating in the now common sight of thousands of empty seats at The Emirates, that they must be starting to lose money, or at least failing to make the kind of money they were hoping to. However, what has gone before will be as nothing if Arsenal continue their downward slide and do end up being relegated.
The irony is, of course, that that might be the one thing that finally persuades the Kroenkes to sell up and get out of Arsenal. So, before the end of the season, Arsenal fans could be faced with the ultimate impossible question: would it be worth getting relegated to get rid of the Kroenkes?