Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has backed up Laura Woods’ claim that a top four finish for Mikel Arteta’s side would be a ‘massive overachievement’ despite criticism from Jamie O’Hara.
The Gunners are in a very strong position for a top four finish come the end of the 2021/22 campaign after the north Londoners continued their winning streak with their victory over Watford on Sunday.
“To be fair, I don’t like to look at the table a lot because we have games in hand, we’re going to play different fixtures and I know the objective and it’s only one, to try and improve tomorrow on what we’ve done today and go into the next match and that’s it,” Mikel Arteta said in his post-match press conference.
“I cannot control results and I cannot predict which matches we are going to win, draw or lose, it’s impossible. If I start to do that I think we’re going to lose focus in what we want to do.”
Later on Sunday afternoon, main rivals for the final fourth spot Man United were comprehensively beaten in the Manchester derby- a result that has really tilted the top four picture in Arsenal’s favour with a stuttering Tottenham side hoping to re-enter the conversation when they take to the field against Everton on Monday night.
But as it stands, big Arsenal fan and TV presenter Woods has maintained the view that a top-four finish would be a shock if the Gunners were to remain in that same position, amid criticism from Spurs fan and presenter O’Hara.
O’Hara: “Is it though? Really? You spent £150m and it’s Arsenal…they should already be there!”
Woods: “Hang on a minute Jamie O’Hara, can I just say, not so long ago, you were saying ‘Spurs were back- watch out Arsenal, watch out Man United and watch out Leicester.’ So at that time, you thought Arsenal were miles off top four, didn’t you?”
O’Hara: “Yes, at that moment but in the grand scheme of things, Arsenal are a better football club than Tottenham and have been for the last 10 years.”
Woods: “You’ve just changed your tune very quickly there.”
O’Hara: “No, but, I’ve always said this- Arsenal have had a massive fall from grace haven’t they, so to say that now it’s an over-achievement to get into the Champions League is not- they should be challenging for Champions League.”
Woods: “Are you serious? You were judging them on what they were, not what they have become. You’ve just said that there has been a massive fall from grace.”
O’Hara: “I’ve said it has been a great season for them so far. If they get into the Champions League, they fully deserve it but they should be in the Champions League- it’s Arsenal.”
Woods: “You aren’t listening to my argument. You are saying they should be because they are Arsenal and yes, they are Arsenal because they are a massive club but look how far they fell. And look at how much the teams around them have gotten better and look at how much money they are spending, so yes, I think it is a massive overachievement.”
O’Hara: “Have they got better? Man City and Liverpool have gotten better but no one really else has have they?”
Woods: “Well not Spurs- they tried to by getting a world class manager and look what’s happened to you guys.”
“Can I just say to that we don’t have a world-class manager, we have one who is very much at the beginning of his tenure, so finishing top four is an overachievement for Arsenal and where they are at the moment.
“Who did we bring in during the January transfer window?”
O’Hara: “I don’t think it’s an over-achievement. It’s an achievement…”
Woods: “It’s an overachievement. Why aren’t you finishing top four? I mean it hasn’t happened yet but it’s all theory but you’ve got Antonio Conte and you have one of the best striker’s in the world in your team who has a great connection with Heung Min-Son.”
O’Hara: “But we haven’t won Premier League titles, so we haven’t been where Arsenal have been.”
Woods: “Clubs change and you are saying where they have been and about their fall off from grace.”
O’Hara: “Yes, they have had a fall off from grace but they didn’t fall off a cliff.”
Woods: “Exactly, but they did fall off a cliff- are you serious? We were bottom of the league at one point, we finished tenth, so it was a massive fall from grace.”
O’Hara: “I just don’t think it is that.”
Woods: “So, at the beginning of the season when you did your predictions, were Arsenal in the top four?”
Woods: “It’s an overachievement then?”
O’Hara: “I don’t think it is.”
Woods: “Where did you think they were going to finish then?”
O’Hara: “Sixth, seventh- that’s where I thought they would finish.”
Woods: “In my Maths, that’s an overachievement.”
O’Hara: “But not for Arsenal Football Club!”
This heated exchange conducted in good will split the fan base on social media but large parts of them sided with what the Sky Sports presenter had to say and none more so than Ian Wright, who delivered his verdict on what was said.
He tweeted on his Twitter account @IanWright10: ‘Woodsy [followed by two emojis.]’