Everton 1-1 Arsenal
On the face of it, a 1-1 draw away from home against a very tough-to-beat team directly beneath us in the league is creditable. In the context of an ordinary season, it’s a good result.
But the nature of the performance proves, yet again, that 2008-9 is a far from ordinary season for Arsenal. It’s a season in which we have been incapable of defending well (just seven clean sheets in the league), have so patently lacked muscle and drive in the midfield, and have suffered more than our fair share of injuries, especially to our key creative players.
It’s a lethal mix. We can’t defend our way out of our lack of creativity, we can’t muscle our way out of our lack of creativity and clearly, we can’t create our way out of it.
Robin van Persie’s wonderful goal saved our blushes and saved our bacon. Frankly, we deserved absolutely nothing from the game. The best of teams on the top of their game find Everton a very hard team to open up, and Arsenal, being neither of those things, struggled badly.
At times last night, as I chased the live streams around the web, I wondered what on earth Wenger was doing pursuing an attacking midfielder when other areas of the team are crying out for reinforcement.
But I can see the logic: in the absence of Fabregas, Walcott and Rosicky, Arsenal as an attacking force are seriously curtailed. Nasri cannot take all the creative burden himself, and the rest of the current midfield doesn’t have the guile, so the strikers don’t get the support and all it takes is for the defence to make one mistake – something they oblige us with regularly – for a game to run away from us.
News on Arshavin cannot come fast enough. It certainly can’t come any slower. The mere fact of a big signing would do wonders for the morale of the team and, I suspect, of the fans. “I would say it is a 90% chance”, said Wenger. “But I can’t say 90% which way. In this game people can change their minds so quickly.”
With or without Arshavin, our challenge – fourth place – is not insurmountable. But we are now five points behind Villa and we are the ones dropping points. Call me old-fashioned but it kind of needs to be the other way round.
Positives? We are unbeaten in the league for two months and van Persie is on fire.