A 7-game struggle awaits Arsenal

QPR 2-1 Arsenal

Like most Arsenal fans, I expect, I wasn’t naïve enough to anticipate a serene run of victories that would enable us to sail through to the end of the season unhindered. I expected a blip, but I didn’t really expect that blip yesterday. Maybe the players didn’t, either, and therein lies the rub.

It’s not easy to sound authoritative about a game based solely on Match of the Day highlights, so I won’t even try. From what I can glean, defensively it looked like a bad day at the office, with the usually towering Vermaelen in particular having one to forget. Hats off to QPR of course for taking the game to Arsenal – I’m sure that this morning that nobody at Arsenal will need reminding (or re-reminding, ha) that relegation-threatened sides are often like wounded animals. Underestimate them at your peril.

Wenger was pretty honest about our defeat – he’s been doing this a lot this season after we lose, and losing is something we have now done nine times.

“What we produced on the day was not good enough… subconsciously something was missing today. If you miss something on the commitment front you are beaten. That is what happened today”.

So he admitted that we simply weren’t as committed as we should have been, a bit complacent, which kind of makes me want to bash my head against a wall. If there’s one thing he’s been preaching – as have the players – it’s the need to not let the foot off the gas, take each game at a time and blah blah blah.

Of course, winning seven consecutive games is special, and maybe that focus and tempo simply gets harder and harder to maintain. And like I said, it’s not realistic to expect us to turn up and snaffle each and every three points.

Ramsey as a winger was a mysterious move, given we have two much more suitable options there in the shape of Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain. As much as I cannot fathom that, I doubt that was what lost us the game. We just weren’t at the races enough.

It’s a jolt back to reality and a reminder that a top-four finish is going to be a proper slog. A reminder too that for all the invention and spirit shown since February, this Arsenal side is not good enough to turn up and bully teams when not playing at 100%. If Spurs win today – and they will not lack for motivation now – the difference between us returns to being razor-thin. Chelsea are only five points behind. Frankly, with seven games left, third place remains anyone’s to win and lose.

Next up, Manchester City.