A week of reflection

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Deep breath… Go! I’m back and I’m sporting – against my better judgement – a positive hat at a jaunty angle. I think it looks rather dapper.

I might be the only one though. The groans – resignation, anger – around the ground and the introspection amongst Arsenal fans since Saturday tell you all you need to know about the state of play. I’ve digested much of the opinion and I’ve blasted my way through several braces of podcasts. I can’t remember things ever being this gloomy in the Wenger era. I certainly didn’t fancy writing about it on Sunday. After all, I’ve written about it before, many times. All the words are below here somewhere, perhaps in a slightly different order, but here nevertheless.

A neutral putting their head round the door might wonder what all the fuss is about. We have an abundance of talented footballers, and we are second in the league. As a snapshot, you can see their point. But the bubbling frustration is very real. It’s borne of seeing the same mistakes, or omissions, or deficiencies, again and again and again.

But things are what they and I for one need to change the record. I’ve had enough being miserable. I just can’t do it anymore.

At the moment, I don’t want to guess who we might sign in the summer, think about what close season changes Wenger needs to make or debate his own future.

I just want a performance on Sunday. Not a scraped win after 15 minutes of late pressure, but a 90-minute passion play. Tactically sharp, high in tempo, fast, unpredictable. Is that possible, after a month-long slump? Well why not? Somewhere, deep in the recesses of history, we’ve seen them do it.

The pressure’s really on Wenger – he’s clearly feeling bruised by his players and he can’t be immune to the wider dissatisfaction – and how he tackles this latest malaise will be very, very interesting.

Some early thoughts

We’re not scoring enough goals, and goals are the raw currency of form. But at least Wenger has started to throw strikers on, and earlier than he ordinarily would. By the time Arshavin scored against WBA in the 70th minute, we had had three strikers on the pitch for nearly a quarter of an hour. And against Blackburn we had the same three strikers – van Persie, Chamakh and Bendtner – for the last 15 minutes. They spurned their half chances but at least van Persie didn’t look so isolated.

So I know it’s not fashionable these days, but how two strikers from the start? We need goals and we have strikers. Our five-man midfield relies on Song and Fabregas being in top form, and neither are.

At the moment, it’s not about a lack of first-choice personnel. Against Blackburn, we had as good a team out as we could have. They just didn’t play, looked down, lethargic, flat. This is Wenger’s biggest puzzler. Does he read the riot act? Does he need to be more subtle? If the chance of staying with the league leaders wasn’t motivation enough, what will be?

Overall Honestly: I’ve not enjoyed watching us since Barcelona at home. But I don’t subscribe to the theory that this team is a busted flush or a failed experiment. It’s never that black and white. We’ve hit a dismal rut of form and need to drag ourselves from it. Yes, something’s gone awry, the team needs changes – some new players in and some underperforming ones out – and Wenger needs to look at himself too, but we have the nucleus of an excellent side and we are second in the league. We shouldn’t forget that.

Was that positive enough? I am giving this glass-half-full stuff a good go.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Adrian L

    I, for one, feel much better now.

    *skips off on a rainbow*

  2. East Lower

    If you find a grotesquely competitive and skillful holding midfielder at the other end of it, do let me know.

  3. Anonymous

    Why the long faces? Most Man U fans (and some pundits ) say this is the worst side of the Fergie era whilst Arsene says this is his best squad to date LOL!

    Time for a change for me.

  4. Fredrik Eggen

    Agreed, people are very quick to forget what came before (not just previous campaigns, but this season as well). A month of bad results does not mean that the team is crap, it just means something else. Quite what, I don’t know, but when we know that the team is capable of being top of the league, be in all four competitions, beat Barcelona and Chelsea at home, and get to a Wembley final – all in one season – it seems a bit knee-jerky (mmmmm) to call for heads.

  5. East Lower

    Fair enough – there are plenty who have come round to that point of view. For me, it will be interesting to see how Wenger reacts. Will he admit things need to change and spend the required money?

    If he ploughs the same furrow regardless, the calls for a change will probably get louder and louder.

  6. Jeff

    “Our five-man midfield relies on Song and Fabregas being in top form, and neither are.”

    This rings true for me; but then they might have hit top form in training since the last match? I’m also interested to see how Wenger tries to solve the malaise.

  7. Anonymous

    It kills me to criticise anything to do with Arsenal. Having supported the Team since ’72 I have shared a number of ups and downs.

    That said we were sold the move to the Emirates ‘to compete with Utd and Chelsea’ and done nothing of the sort.

    We have been knocked out of Europe by Chelsea, Utd and Liverpool. We constantly see the likes of Diaby scoring spectacular ogs and daft sendings off. See numerous goalkeeping gaffes by a succession of muppets in the goal and keep getting told we will learn from that mistake!

    I think we are still unbeaten in the League since the dreadful showing at OT but that said, there is no way that UTD would not have scored at home against Sunderland and Blackburn.

    Finishing in the top 4 on what we spend is a great acheivement and there is nothing like the site of a Jack Wilshere coming through.

    That said being the bridesmaid every year in the League and with the odd exception, getting knocked out early in the second round of the CL acheives nothing when the season ticket prices are sky high.

    The next person to tell me but you play the best football will get a smack!

    Sign a centre half fresh out of Holloway on a GBH charge and a pain in the a–e midfielder like for example Joey Barton or play another record.

    But always keep the faith

  8. Anonymous

    But did we not say the same thing this time last year ? And the season before ?
    Wenger will not spend the required money. Frankly, I’m not interested in how he will react. I was interested last summer & the one before but no more.
    Ask yourself this ..is the fact that Denilson & Diaby are not up to the task news as a result of their performances this season ??? Clearly not. So why are we still dependant on them.
    We have not won a league game without Song.
    In the CL he’s played 5 games (5 wins) & missed 3 (3 losses).
    The fact remains that if Song is injured/suspended/out of form our midfield falls apart.
    I said months ago that to keep his job he has to win this league; the worst one I can remember in a long, long time. I hope a miracle happens & we win it.
    If not, it’s time to go.

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