Ring any bells?
There are several dozen infuriating things about yesterday, all of them still fizzing away in my brain. It might be cathartic for me to list them but it would tip you all so far over the edge that it would be cruel.
But the thing I find most worrying of all, worse than the defeat itself, which had to happen one day, is the continuing seam of mental frailty that runs through this team. We can be brilliant, stubborn, resilient one weekend and we can collapse like a pack of cards the next. I don’t know how many times I have been forced to bring it up on the blog. Far too many.
For the fan – or for me, anyway – not knowing which Arsenal will turn up is the ultimate purgatory. Yesterday we even managed to squeeze both Arsenals into one match.
Technically, physically, these players are all good enough. But collectively there’s something missing and with dismal timing, after an almost faultless first half, the team migrated south at the first sign of a Spuds revival. As soon as Bale made it 2-1, I knew it could happen. There was an air of inevitability about it all.
It doesn’t always rear its head in a game, or even for two or three or four. But at some point it comes back, we switch off, and by the time we switch back on it’s all over.
Yesterday the players thought it was job done at half time, they saw the prize and the hula girls and the martinis and the adulation, and they must have started celebrating a bit in the head. That they switched off for a moment and conceded a goal is fairly normal. That they were unable to stop the rot is not.
Wenger talks about consistency all the time, but when the top of the table looms invitingly, we fail to show it. As he himself said, “What is worrying for me is that we had an opportunity to go to the top of the league and when we have to deliver we can’t.”
We started the season going five games before defeat. The next unbeaten run was three matches long. Then we went on a two-match unbeaten run before losing yesterday.
Despite all this, we are still in a very strong position in the league. But would you bet on us going on the kind of long run required to win it?
Or are we more likely to win three of four before succumbing once again?
Sadly, I know what my money would be on.
I maintain we are not far away. But we need to learn to concentrate, to focus 100% of the time, to cut out the errors, and we are showing no signs of doing that.