So, who had the better season, Arsenal or Tottenham?
Looking at Tottenham’s season and they finished runners-up in the Premier League, 7 points behind Champions Chelsea, going on an eight game winning run towards the end of the season, as they tried to overhaul Chelsea. They also finished 8 points ahead of Manchester City in third place, who many tipped as favourites for the title at the start of the season with new manager Pep Guardiola. Most importantly however their second placed finish ensured Champions League football for successive seasons for the first time in the clubs history.
Domestically in the cups they reached the semi-final of the FA Cup where Chelsea knocked them out and got to the fourth round of the League Cup getting knocked out by Liverpool. A bit of a mixed bag.
In Europe on the other hand they were dreadful. They failed to get out of their group in the Champions League, finishing third, yes they had Monaco who managed to knock out Man City and Dortmund and get to the semi-finals, but they should have finished above Bayer Leverkusen to progress. Finishing third saw them drop into the Europa League, where they got knocked out in the Round of 32 by Gent. Remember they didn’t win either game against Gent, they lost the away leg 1-0 and drew at “home” (Wembley) 2-2.
So to summarise Spurs won nothing, were rubbish in Europe but did finish runners-up in the Premier League and qualify (again) for the Champions League.
Turning to Arsenal and they finished fifth, 11 points behind Tottenham in second and 18 points behind Champions Chelsea, which means no Champions League football for them next season, instead they can look forward to a season of Thursday nights (the horror that is Thursday nights) and the Europa League.
In the League Cup they reached the quarter-final, where Southampton, who finished the competition as runners-up, knocked them out.
Arsenal’s European adventure wasn’t much better than Tottenham’s, yes they made it out of their group unlike Tottenham but they then lost 10-2 over the two legs against Bayern Munich. The opposition got to double digits. That’s hugely embarrassing and what’s worse is that it could have easily been more than 10 for Bayern Munich. Losing by one goal against Gent in the Europa League all of a sudden doesn’t seem as bad.
However Arsenal did manage to win something. They won the FA Cup after they beat the Premier League Champions 2-1, denying them the Double.
To summarise for Arsenal, they got humiliated in the Champions League, failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing fifth, were a long way behind Champions Chelsea in the league but did actually win a trophy, the FA Cup.
So what makes for a better season, winning the FA Cup but missing out on the Champions League or winning nothing but qualifying for the Champions League?
Surely football is all about winning things? Players want to look back at the medals they won during their career, not talking about how they finished second and got to play a season in the Champions League. Likewise fans want something to cheer and celebrate like winning a trophy, not finishing runners-up and qualifying for a competition.
People remember winning trophies, it goes down in the record books and it’s remembered for years to come. In years to come who will remember who finished runners-up in the league or who finished top four and qualified for a competition as a result?
Of course you could view it as to come second in the league means you are the second best team in the country and that it’s a harder achievement because you have to do it over 38 games where you have to play each team twice, which requires a great deal more consistency while to win the FA Cup you have to win just six games and you can get some luck with the draws with regards to who you face. (Note I’m not saying Arsenal were lucky with their draws, they beat Man City in the semi-final and Chelsea in the final, that’s impressive).
Whilst I maintain winning a trophy should be better than just finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League, football and sport as a whole is about winning things which would mean that Arsenal had a better season than Tottenham, if Tottenham use this season to push forward and as a springboard for success, there could be an argument that Tottenham, at least unofficially, had the better season. Officially though, it will always be Arsenal.
That’s just some of my thoughts on the whole who had a better season, Arsenal or Tottenham, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.