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ESPN is kind of pleasant stuff for me to improve my reading, but sometimes, they really freak me out. Here is the sentence:

Arsenal are interested in Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi as they attempt to fill a much-needed spot up front after falling short season after season with their current crop of attackers.

I'm so confused about two "after" in this sentence. Actually, I can totally understand the sentence, but just because I pay many attentions to football as well as Arsenal and other clubs. I dont think I understand this guys without some informations of football. Please explain to me for the two "after" guys.

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  • "season after season" means "each season" – 54 69 6D Jul 18 '16 at 17:13
  • It is a set-phrase that seems odd in this context, but this is how it is used by English speakers – BladorthinTheGrey Jul 18 '16 at 17:15
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Season after season means the same as after many seasons.

"after falling short season after season"

The second "after" means that Arsenal was falling short after the season, after many seasons.

"...they attempt to fill a much-needed spot up front after falling short after many seasons..."

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    It means more after failing multiple seasons in a row here, because they haven't failed every season ever, only most of the recent ones – BladorthinTheGrey Jul 18 '16 at 17:26
  • @BladorthinTheGrey Would "after many seasons" work better? – 54 69 6D Jul 18 '16 at 17:30
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    Yes that seems very nicely worded – BladorthinTheGrey Jul 18 '16 at 17:37
  • I got it. Really appreciate your helps ! – anhvu1210 Jul 18 '16 at 17:38
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    To me, "season after season" almost conveys a sense of disappointment, compared to "after many seasons" or something similar. I would probably say a student has failed "test after test" if I expect them to do better, or can't believe how poorly they continued to perform. But if I say that that student still couldn't score a passing grade "after many tests," I probably never expected anything better, or that this wasn't at all surprising. I can't quite pinpoint the difference, but the two phrases convey slightly different attitudes, for me. – pjs36 Jul 19 '16 at 5:02
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"Season after season" is a phrase meaning "over many seasons" or "repeatedly".

If you substitute "repeatedly" for "season after season" in the sentence it should be easily understandable.

Arsenal are interested in Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi as they attempt to fill a much-needed spot up front after falling short repeatedly with their current crop of attackers.

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All of the current answers explain that "season after season" can be replaced by "after many [consecutive] seasons", but I wanted to add the origin of this construction.

"[time word] after [time word]" is a very common English idiom, and it takes many forms:

This construction is so common and consistent that even a phrase not necessarily ever heard before, i.e. "fortnight after fortnight" would be expected to be understood.

The basic implication is that whatever thing is being measured gets measured approximately every time period that is mentioned and that after every measurement, the results are consistent after many times- "season after season" implying that the sports results really only matter at the end of every season, and that after every season, the results were consistent (bad in this specific case).

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The phrase may make more sense if "parsed" as follows:

"Arsenal are interested in Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi as they attempt to fill a much-needed spot up front after falling short (season after season) with their current crop of attackers."

"Season after season" means "for many seasons." But it is basically a "parenthetical" to the main sentence.

What is not true, (and what you may have feared), is that two "afters" were "operating" on each other, as in a construction like "after the after". The second "after" is basically in a separate phrase from the first one. So that's not the case.

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