I’m afraid I’m going to sound like a parrot: what I am about to say has been said just about everywhere else, sometimes more forcefully and sometimes less, but everywhere nonetheless. We all see the same things – we have done for months.
But that result hurt. It wasn’t just a 2-1 loss; there are damning implications of Saturday’s desperate defeat.
And it was desperate: a lack of fight, of leadership, and of quality combined to form one horrible mulch of a performance.
OK, so we’re only 6 points from the top of the table, but scratch beneath the surface and the outlook looks far less palatable. Three defeats to teams we ought not have lost to, plus of course a horrible two-point capitulation to our lovely north London rivals, and a near-miss at Sunderland, and all this before we’ve even played a title-challenging side.
At the same stage last season we have seven more points – with Liverpool (a) and Man Utd (h) already under our belts.
The most frustrating thing for me and for Arsenal fans everywhere is that it was all so avoidable. Our defensive weaknesses haven’t properly been addressed, our midfield not properly replenished. Why the latter in particular was not tackled in the summer is one of the biggest mysteries of all.
Clearly, we lack quality in midfield – it’s plain to see.
I join the call for there to be serious money spent in January. Not just to bolster our midfield options and to add some spike, but to raise morale within and without the squad. A strong signing sends out the right message.
Wenger complained recently that the fans have been quick to get on the backs of the players this season, and he’s right to a point. There’s been a lot of impatience.
But it’s not because we’re absurdly demanding or unreasonable: it’s purely because we’re worried at the cracks that have been appearing. We’re weak in fundamental areas and Saturday’s defeat – along with the midweek muddle – is about the fifth poor game in eleven.
It’s not all doom of course. Goodplaya is right to point out that we still have the bulk of a very good side. Up front we’ve plenty of ability, we have two fantastic wide men and in Sagna and Clichy we have two of the best full-backs in the league. Despite all the travails, we’re in good nick in the Champions League.
We’ve scored 44 times this season – when the strikers get the service, they score. Adebayor and van Persie have 16 goals between them.
Perhaps the reason Adebayor looked so inept on Saturday was that he had Song behind him, and on his wings he had two central midfielders.
Of course, we can only work with what we have for now and the games come thick and fast.
All I do know is that if we play like that against Man Utd on Saturday we will get murdered.
Luckily, we have a game in between to do something about it. Wenger has to pick this team up and give it an almighty shake before it really is too late.
And as the fans who file in and out of the stadium week-in, week-out, we’ve got to up the noise. That’s one way to help their brittle confidence.
Onwards and upwards.