Nil-nil against Wigan is never a great result. But nil-nil against Wigan coming straight off the back of deposing the European champions in their own back yard makes it feel like the earth has caved in.
There are mitigating factors. Firstly, the pitch, as Wenger as quick to point out, was like a ploughed field. It was terrible. Secondly, we were short of wide bodies (that same old moan, bleated on about time and again but still as true as it has ever been). We started with Fabregas wide and ended up with Toure there. And thirdly, Wigan – believe it or not – are in something of a purple patch and it showed. They gave us a really tough game.
But beyond that, what? After a bright opening 15 minutes, we deteriorated and were no better than average. We lacked fluency, couldn’t retain the ball and in many instances were second to it. Wigan thoroughly deserved their point.
We created two clear-cut chances all afternoon. The first one Adebayor shot straight at the keeper and the second one, a harder chance after Fabregas was put through by Adebayor at close range, also went straight at the keeper. That was really it.
Plus points? Only that van Persie and Toure returned. The former showed some nice touches but the two chances he had were both high and wide. But beyond tuning his radar in, he looks ready and hungry. And the latter looked eager and energetic – and out of position.
So where does that leave us? Slipping, that’s where. Despite being two points clear at the top of the league, we’ve dropped six points out of the last nine and have given the initiative away. I’ve said it before but the team that finds its form at this stage of the season is the one that will go on and win it.
In a mini-league comprising the top four, we would be fourth. That’s not the form of champions and Wenger must know it. “We were focused,” said Wenger (I agree), “but lacked sharpness” (I agree again).
“I am sure we will take-off again”.
Well, we really need to, and desperately.
We absolutely have to take three points from Boro on Saturday.