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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


Better Season: Liverpool or Arsenal?

Written by on April 20, 2012 | 10 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal, Liverpool

There was a time (in a League far, far away) when the question in the headline would barely have been worth asking.

Liverpool, with one trophy under their belt and another trip to Wembley to look forward to, would have a much happier set of fans than Arsenal who, with third or fourth place the best they could hope for, would be left with only a place in the UEFA Cup to look forward to in the following season and few genuinely exciting memories to keep them going during the summer months.

The arrival of the Premier League though and, more importantly the Champions League, changed the mindset of almost everybody.

When Arsene Wenger claimed that a top four spot was the equivalent of winning a trophy, or when Kenny Dalglish lauded a recent kit deal neither man was saying anything particularly outlandish in a world where finances are discussed as much as formations.

So when the dust of the season has settled which club can claim to have had the better year?

Both went into August with reasonably high hopes, maybe not of winning the title but at least with the potential of being in with a shout at some stage, and they were both definitely hopeful of gaining one of those much coveted Champions League positions and will have been reasonably of having some silverware to put on display when May rolled around.

Well Arsenal, another implosion notwithstanding, will have achieved Champions League football for 2013 and Liverpool will have given their supporters three trips to Wembley (including a victory over their local rivals in an FA Cup semi-final).

As I implied at the beginning of this piece there was a time when soccer fans lived solely in the moment and the lifting of a trophy was all they craved, but now so many thoughts are on the balance sheet of the club or even, and this is becoming more prevalent, concern as much with the cache of being in the Champions League as actually winning the thing.

So when we look back on the season is it Arsenal with their guaranteed income and continued marketing potential that are the winners, or is it Liverpool with at least one trophy already won that take the plaudits?

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10 responses to “Better Season: Liverpool or Arsenal?”

  1. Rob says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Russell, as you know. As a Liverpool supporter, I’ll wait till the season is over to make a determination on this but I think even if Liverpool win a 2nd trophy, I would still rather be in Arsenal’s spot.

    What is your thoughts?

  2. Ed Gomes says:

    If Liverpool is able to win the FA Cup and is able to finish strong, let’s say 6th,mi would give it to them. But that comes with a caveat, which is, if you are going to gut your team once again after bringing in and spending a ton, no. Let’s call it a rebuilding year, with the parts beginning to come together.
    I also believe they have an Europa spot locked up with he Carling Cup, no?
    If they should lose in the FA Cup Final, it becomes a bit trickier.

    Arsenal had bigger aspirations, and not even earning or competing for Silverware is demoralizing. A quarter final appearance in the Carling Cup is not competing.
    Yes another Top 4 finish is imperative, due to the finances. Let me add that a Top 3 spot is just as important so a playoff CL appearance isn’t necessary.

    Frankly, I feel that there will be plenty of upset supporters of both clubs, no matter what the finish is.

  3. J Rob says:

    I’d call it a draw. LFC fan here with plenty of mates who support the Gunners. I think both sets of fans want to see their teams competing at the highest level. For Liverpool this year the goal and expectation was a top-four finish. They haven’t come close. I would think that for Arsenal with a team in transition the goal would have been a top-four spot and a piece of silverware after several barren seasons.

    With the exception of Newcastle and the promoted teams of Swansea and Norwich which supporters will be happy at the end of the season? Man City fans if they win title. Yes but even then with some caveats given their early Euro exit. Man Utd fans if they win the league? Yes but their lack of progress in the Champion’s League after three consecutive finals will disappoint many.

    As a Liverpool fan I am adjusting to different expectations. With a top six in the EPL and maybe a top seven if Newcastle’s revival has staying power I can no longer assume we will make Champion’s League every year.

    Lots of hypothetical questions but if Chelsea make the Champion’s League final and lose and aren’t top four in the EPL what does one make of their season?

    Is it fair to subjugate all other achievements to a top-four finish? Isn’t is better to enjoy the moment of victories like their game over Barcelona last Wednesday than the pleasure of anticipating what they might do next season? As fans we want it all. But how realistic it that going forward especially with Financial Fair play coming?

  4. fabr04 says:

    I’m an Arsenal supporter, but even with my disappointment I would rather have Arsenal’s season than Liverpool’s regardless of how the FA Cup works out. As an American and a relatively new football fan, I don’t really care about the FA or Carling cups; I respect them and their tradition, and I’d be happy if we won one or the other, but they don’t mean much for me. It’s the PL and CL that get me excited, and I’m glad we’re (sort of) competitive in both.

    That said, I do not think a top 4 finish is a guarantee for Arsenal. Arteta’s injury plus Arsenal’s recent tendency to stop playing 5 games before the end of the season (they won only 1 of their last 5 matches the past 2 seasons) make me
    wonder if we’ve hung the “Mission Accomplished” sign too early.

    Also, the Suarez-Evra incident, and the club’s many stupid decisions afterwards, are a major black mark (heh) for Liverpool. I support my club but not to the point where I defend bigotry and/or bad decisions; stupid is stupid regardless of what colors you’re wearing.

  5. Rob says:

    Fabr04-I’m relatively new myself to the game and when I started watching the FA Cup was a lot more prestigious, probably because there were only 2 Champions League places up for grabs and those two place were mostly occupied Arsenal and United.

    As it were the Carling Cup, the Worthington Cup then, has always been a throw-away competition since I’ve watched.

    With all that said, I agree with you as winning the FA Cup doesn’t do anything for Liverpool’s ambitions other than to say we’ve got something tangible in terms of success.

  6. Russell Berrisford says:

    There are some who advocate giving a CL spot to the FA Cip winner which would obviously change the dynamic of that cprtition entirlely.

  7. ARSE says:

    Perhaps financially Arsenal have gained more this season by qualifying for CL, but do they really stand a chance of putting up a fight next season for both CL & EPL title (especially if RvP is at Juve and Djorou making Cygan look like Maldini)?

    Anyone who disregards Liverpool winning 2 trophies in a season (should one be the coveted FA Cup) and an owner/mgr willing to spend in order to improve….. well that says it all doesn’t it?

  8. Russell Berrisford says:

    Obviously that last comment was written on my mobile device which explains its complete incoherence, but its interesting how many fans seem willing to forego a day of glory in exchange for being in the Champions League

  9. J Rob says:


    I think there’s a key difference between armchair fans like me who watch 1000’s of miles away and those who are season-ticket holders and go to the games. My strong hunch is that the latter have loved going to Wembley twice already this season and can’t wait for the third-trip. Cup victories over Stoke (twice), Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Everton and of course Cardiff in the final aren’t too shabby when you think about it either.

    But being an armchair Arsenal fan is probably better. That glorious night in the San Siro in February er, oh dear that’s right.

    Just kidding on the latter point…

  10. J says:

    The perception of success is influenced by whether those chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” come at the beginning or the end of the season.

    I don’t recall too many high hopes from the Arsenal camp going into August, unless you count hoping to hold on to a top-4 finish while losing Fabregas and Nasri. At one point, it got so grim that fans were pointing to the play of Frimpong for inspiration. There was a little respite with the purchase of Mertesacker and Arteta, but the first real uptick was squeaking out CL qualifying against Udinese.

    Meanwhile, everything seemed to be coming up roses for Liverpool, and there was a lot of excitement about having Suarez and Carroll playing a full year together. Charley Adam. Luis Enrique. King Kenny was a genius. A CL spot seemed believable.

    I don’t remember hearing fans of either club lusting for a Carling Cup. I wonder how fondly Birmingham fans look back on their triumph last year (must be fun showing that thing off, all around the Championship). At the time Liverpool won the trophy, it was a consolation for all that had gone wrong: Lucas’ injury, Carroll’s ineffectiveness, Suarez’s suspension (and worse – the PR campaign that followed). There was talk about the trophy reinvigorating the club…and then they went out a few days later and lost to Arsenal at Anfield.

    It’s pretty hard to feel successful when you dole out (a little) cash for a club’s striker (and left back), then watch them vault above you in the standings. An FA Cup would remove some of the sting of this season’s disappointments, but in the end, Liverpool will have underachieved from where many thought they were heading a year ago. In contrast, an August claim that Arsenal would finish 3rd would not have passed the straight-face test.

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