Gunners Commands Huge Fan Loyalty
Ask any crowd of supporters, especially those of any top-tier club in the EPL, and they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms their team will carry the trophy home next year. Mostly the “next year” axiom serves to obfuscate feelings of insecurity and failure. However, in some instances, the phrase could acquire actual weight and at one stage in the season, it may perhaps have applied to Arsenal lifting the EPL trophy this year.
The 2020/21 EPL season became Arsenal FC’s 101st consecutive season of competing in top-tier English football. It also marks the club’s 29th season in the English Premier League and the date for the year’s EPL final set for Sunday the 23rd of May 2021. Ranked ninth in the standings, Arsenal managed to rack-up a rather dismal 52 points for the season, which left the Gunners with less than a snowball’s chance to add silverware to their trophy cabinet.
Early Season Promise
Despite a 16-year hiatus since last lifting the EPL trophy the London club started the season with lots of possibilities showing promise to make good on a successful challenge this season if everything panned out according to plan. For a club potent enough to have captured the Premier League crown on 14 occasions in the past, where and how did things go so far off-track for the third most successful club in the Premier League?
The Arteta Factor
As captain Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to its first FA Cup trophy victory since the Arsene Wenger epoch. Arteta did not take much of a break before following his remarkable achievement up with the defeat of reigning EPL champs Liverpool in a Community Shield match that ended in a penalty shootout.
Going Off Track
At the start of the season Gunner fan optimism was at its highest in many years. However, things soon took a turn for the worse during the early part of the season and by December the team had dropped to 15th in the EPL standings after just 12 goals in 14 league games. At the time Arsenal only managed a better goal return than the league’s three bottom-most teams.
Surprisingly, this came about despite the club having made a major financial investment in Aubameyang’s contract renewal as well as acquiring the services of Thomas Partey from Madrid. Everything seems to have gone haywire, with the club experiencing its most dismal run of form since 1974.
Many factors contributed to the club’s drop in form, the loss of several key players at crucial stages of the season had a huge effect. Arsenal’s top earner, Ozil has not played one minute in over seven months after refusing to take a pay-cut like his fellow players and since voicing a political opinion on social media. Aubameyang contracted a pretty bad case of malaria, leaving him with fevers causing him to arrive late at practice and leave early. And so the list of disasters grew as the season went on. Each season all teams face similar problems but for the Gunners simply too many arrived too tightly stacked and it made all the difference at crucial times during the season!
Despite the bitter disappointment for Arsenal fans after such early-season positivity, all is not quite lost for the Gunners, there is always “next year”! However, in this instance, it is one of those occasions where the gilded phrase “next year” actually carries real weight.
More than one player and knowledgeable football buff have touted Arteta to become one of the world’s top managers. He already has a formidable team at his disposal, is an excellent coach, and by next year he would not be stuck putting out raging fires he inherited within team ranks this year. He would also have done a few much-needed trades, and likely spent quality money in key areas like bolstering the defence. Next year Arsenal might just be in the best position in 16 years to break their 16-year drought.
Looking Forward – 2020/21
Red Devils fans clashing with police about violent anti-Glazer sentiments caused a postponement of the fixture. The postponement marked the first delay for an EPL fixture in history due to fan protests. Not only did it do the club’s image no good in the eyes of the world it may even have contributed to Manchester United’s 4 – 2 loss to Liverpool. The end of season thriller upset did however kick the top-four bid wide open again.
Chelsea put the brakes on Manchester City’s title party after coming behind for a 2-1 win. Man City’s 1-2 loss to Chelsea signaled the club’s second loss to The Blues in the space of just three weeks! Closest rivals Man United could still have make a difference two games in hand but City required just three points with three games remaining to claim the title for the third time in four years!
If Manchester United was not victorious in both of their home games against Leicester and Liverpool there was still a possibility that Manchester City could lose the title due to goal difference. Although, even if Man United managed to win both games Man City only had to win the next away match against Newcastle United leaving City with 83 points, which was one point too far ahead of Man U in this season’s standings.
However, this past season City’s campaign proved just too successful for others to match at the end, and Manchester City were crowned Premier League champions for the third time in four seasons.
Despite facing strong opposition throughout the season Man City remained title favourites by a fair margin. Nearing the end bookmakers were offering odds of 1/5000 before dropping to 1/2500 just prior to the final round of matches.
UK Operators & Sports Bettors Coping with Restrictive Legislation
It is no secret that strong anti-gambling sentiments continue to make life increasingly difficult for bookmakers to survive in the UK’s already tightly regulated market. Revisions to the country’s online gambling legislation are one of the many reasons that ensured previously successful marketing campaigns like no deposit bonuses and free bets at UK online casinos to have failed.
Its proponents have cited many reasons for the reforms, some entirely valid. However, there is an important question that begs answering. Is the current crop of solutions fair to individuals who stand to lose their income? When legislation becomes so restrictive it cuts the income of a major sector of the online entertainment industry in half have the lawmakers considered any alternate solutions? Solutions that may deliver similar or better results without impinging on someone’s right to do business and earn a living.
Proposed Additional Sportsbetting Restrictions
These reforms place a severe crimp on the use of effective elements in advertising campaigns like the ban of no deposit free bet offers. To add further insult to injury proposed future legislative reforms in the UK may enforce a blanket ban on gambling-related sponsorship of sports. This means UK football clubs may no longer place the logos of betting brands on any of their apparel. If enacted these reforms would effectively roll back much of Blair-era legislation.
Bonus Options for UK Players
Fortunately for the time being these proposed changes have not yet come into effect which allows top online sportsbooks to still offer players an opportunity to claim highly profitable promotional bonuses. Bonuses that offer players a chance to boost their betting budgets so they can place more bets and perhaps win more.
- Free Bets: are still one of the most popular options, usually awarded either when a new or existing player makes a deposit or as a matched free bet when they place a bet.
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- Risk-free bets: does exactly what the name implies, punters will receive the value of their bet back, in cash or as bet credits, but only if their qualifying bet loses. The punter must place a bet at the value specified in the promo for the bet to qualify as risk-free.
- Boosted / enhanced odds: will often promote a singular specified match or event, most commonly a football game. It simply means the bookmaker offers better odds of a specific event, usually the offer targets new members to convince visitors to sign-up.
- Deposit matched bonus: are essentially free bets that percentage match the value of a new member’s first deposit.