Wednesday, 5 December 2012


The league table is beginning to take shape. That's what most observers tend to say around this time of year, as the pumpkin lanterns turn to Christmas lights.

 For fans of Arsenal and Liverpool, they will be hoping there is a little puppy fat still to be trimmed from the widening waistline of their own seasons. Champions League progress for Arsenal, and possibly soon Liverpool in the Europa League will not paper over the cracks of what have been disappointing seasons for them both.

 However, while only two points separate the two sides in 10th and 11th, and the Gunners have another last 16 draw in Europe's premier competition it is arguably Liverpool's current trajectory that promises more in the long-term.

Arsene Wenger, a legend of the game, whose fast-paced free-flowing attacking football lit up an otherwise safety-first approach favoured by many others in the Premier League's 00s era, is coming towards the inevitable end of his wonderful career. Whether Arsenal will allow him to retire gracefully is another thing, but they do appear to be on a slow downward spiral.

 On the other hand, Liverpool seem to have already reached their nadir. The twin eras of Hodgson and Dalglish, while providing crumbs of comfort in silverware that Arsenal would bite hands off for, saw a deterioration in league form that Wenger's side is yet to suffer - but perhaps that is coming this season. Brendan Rodgers, in many ways, has been forced to start again - blooding youngsters like Raheem Sterling not out of preference, no matter what his press conferences may tell you - but out of neccessity.

At the same time, this is ideal for Rodgers, as it means he can impose his passing philosophy on a squad that is willing to learn. As veterans like Steven Gerrard are phased out, Rodgers can fashion a team of youngsters playing his way - after the splurges Dalglish embarked upon, there will not be much money to spend, but this can be used to his advantage.

Big names can be forsaken for teamwork and sponge-like minds. Given two or three years, Liverpool could be back in the top 4, and Rodgers will find that the 'Liverpool' brand can sell all over the world as he adds ever more star quality to his recipe.

We have already seen the good football his side are capable of playing - and this is supposedly without a natural finisher. Suarez has picked up the mantle for now, but add a poacher into that mix, and a lot more squad depth/experience - guaranteed long-term success.

As for Arsenal, they can only hope they stumble across a manager with a long-term plan, not for his own interests but the club's as well. Unfortunately, even a waning Wenger is better than most other candidates out there.

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