Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Another league game, another defeat. It’s hard to be positive when Arsenal’s season lurches from one reverse to another with such predictable regularity. We sit 15th, which is pretty much where we deserve to be, so post-match yesterday Wenger ruled out challenging for the title. It’s October 3rd.
To be fair, he’d sound like Comical Ali if he said anything otherwise, given that far from sniffing a tilt at the top, we are two points off the relegation zone. The only thing we are currently sniffing is the whiff of stagnation.
The overbearing feeling for me is that, while we played tidily enough in patches – bossed the midfield at times – and had plenty of possession, too much of it was without consequence and despite one or two decent chances, we never did enough to stretch Spurs’ defence for long periods. Our lack of incision, coupled (in the latter stages) with poor passing and chaotic defending, made things relatively easy in the end for Spurs, who could have scored more had it not been for the heroics of Wojciech Szczesny. Or put succinctly: We were not bad, but we were not good. We were decidedly average. At the moment we are decidedly average.
That our hosts have the upper hand on us, after a decade in the shadows, is hard enough to take (three wins in four derby games for them, now), but it would be easier to digest if against everyone else we were chugging along nicely. Instead we are stuck in win-a-few, lose-a-few limbo, against anyone and everyone, and have been since February.
A text from a Spurs-supporting friend of mine, who is not noted for his optimism, simply said “What on earth has happened to you?”
I wish I knew the answer.
I have never thought it’s down to the paucity of personnel. Taken individually, we still have fine footballers and a raft of excellent young ones coming in. Coquelin did well, Szczesny did well. Of course, we have some key injuries in the spine of the side (to which we can add Bacary Sagna, a bitter blow indeed).
This Arsenal side is a work in progress but right now we are not playing enough as a team, not playing for long enough with the right concentration, or always with enough drive, not doing some of the basics right.
Fix that and Wenger is a genius. But does he have any magic left in his magic hat?