Arsenal’s 15 minutes of lame

West Ham 2-2 Arsenal

There are draws that seem like wins, and there are draws that seem like defeats. Today’s was both – depending which team you support.

Deeply frustrating if you’re an Arsenal fan though. Coming back from two goals up might be a theme of the weekend, but it doesn’t make it any less infuriating, does it?

Not being able to knock a game on the head is one of those recurring faults that Arsenal still haven’t banished. Wenger knows it only too well: “We want to learn of course to finish these games off,” he said. “That is basically the most important lesson of the day.”

It’s not the world’s worst result and in general, most of us are pretty happy with the way things are going, but I think that there are still plenty of things we need to sort out if we want to consider ourselves realistic challengers. We’re far from being the finished article.

Clearly, not being able to finish a game off – even when in a position of strength – is one of them. Both goals today were entirely avoidable. For the first, Mannone saved well but palmed it right back across the goal. Really rookie goalkeeping, I’m afraid. And for the second, whether you think it was a harsh penalty or not, Song really didn’t need to make that challenge at all. Cole had his back to goal and was on the edge of the box.

That’s tied into experience, and collective concentration, neither of which are easy to teach. But we’ve been caught out two or three times by lapses this season – perhaps more – and if it hasn’t already been addressed (I’d be amazed if that were the case), then it needs rapid attention.

What of this lack of a killer instinct? Wenger said “when you make a problem of it, it becomes a real problem.” Cryptic as ever.

The second issue that has been bubbling along is the goalkeeping one. Almunia was dropped, for one reason or another, and while Mannone has done well for a 21-year-old, he’s simply not up to the job yet. Do you have faith in Fabianski though? And what about Almunia? Clearly Wenger doesn’t trust him either so we’re in a very precarious position there. It’s ludicrous, to be honest.

So plenty to ponder, but overall, given we have moved into third and we’d be second if we won our game in hand, the garden has hardly been stripped bare of roses.

Luckily for us, many results went our way this weekend. But Wenger will know that we can’t afford to keep on letting points slip like we did today.

It’s a game we should have won.


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