A second-best Arsenal were taken apart yesterday at Boro, and came away with what they deserved: zilch. The home team were better in every department.
Let’s get the stats out the way first – Boro had not won in eleven, and we had not lost in eighteen league games. Yes, we were shorn of creative players, and yes, perhaps the fourth stright away game in ten days was a bridge too far, but with the players available we should have created more than we did.
As Wenger pointed out, it wasn’t a lack of effort – we simply had no answers. “We gave absolutely everything to come back,” he said. “We lacked creativity and sharpness in our passing so therefore we were not dangerous enough to come back into the game.”
Our passing was abysmal, most un-Arsenal like, and too many players – Silva and Da Silva, but in truth, plenty of others without metallic names – just weren’t at the races.
We have to dismiss such a lack of cutting edge as a one-off, but in a way, this has been coming since half time at Villa. We’ve lost a little confidence, and when that happens with a side of relative inexperience, it shows.
We’re still rolling along at the top, which is a glorious place to be and a huge improvement on last season, but there’s now no room for error and those chasing us – particularly the Russians, whom we face on Sunday – will be smelling blood.
We’ll see a different Arsenal on Sunday, of that I am certain.