Arsenal’s problems grow

Arsenal 0-0 Fulham

Serious questions about the mental strength, desire and ambition of Arsene Wenger’s latest creation are being asked on the back of another desperate goalless draw.

Some people will criticise the fans for booing the team off the pitch yesterday, but the fans were supportive until the last ten minutes, when Arsenal appeared to give up. I don’t suppose it helps but I don’t blame anyone for expressing their season-long frustration in this way. It’s symptomatic of a wider disgruntlement. When a team goes through a bad patch, it tends to last a month, or two at best, but the attitude and application of this Arsenal team throughout this league campaign – with some obvious exceptions – has generally been poor.

If I look back at the fixtures and pick out those where we’ve lost, scraped a draw or clung onto a narrow win, it equates to about 15 games. We haven’t scored more than one goal at home since 8th November so to suggest this is a blip is just nonsense.

When a team is drawing 0-0 at home, it’s meant to go for it at the end of the game. Put the opposition under serious pressure, at the very least. Where was the drive and ambition in the last few minutes? There wasn’t any. Fulham were given the time to look up, turn on the ball, pick a pass, and they nearly profited from it.

With about 20 minutes remaining, the Fulham fans started singing “Come on Fulham”. They’d realised Arsenal were there for the taking. What a sad indictment that is.

I don’t think Wenger could have put out a more attacking side. The midfield five should have had more than enough to create chances, push forward. But after a bright start, during which Arsenal created some decent chances, things faded again. I don’t remember any periods of pressure lasting more than a few minutes; for Fulham, it was easy.

The most worrying aspect of this is that Wenger admitted the team has a psychological problem:

“I feel we had weaknesses defensively and offensively today but we continued to fight… We always lacked a bit of sharpness to take advantage of our chances and I feel our passing was not quick enough to give them problems.

There are plenty of reasons, one of them is certainly psychological. I think once it is a psychological problem it is very difficult to assess what is tactical and what is technical. At the moment the more I speak about it the bigger I make the problem.”

That’s worrying – but the buck stops with him. He’s bought and selected these players. It’s his job to motivate them before the game. I don’t buy the fatigue card: This side is young and more than capable of coping. It is packed with talent.

I’m sure I’ll perk up but at this stage I’m inclined to think a year out of the Champions League is no bad thing, provided we can keep the key players in this team together. If they think they’ve achieved something just by being here, they’re wrong. They have achieved nothing.

Wenger is a legend and a genius, but pulling his latest creation up by its bootstraps is possibly his biggest ever task.

Finally, amidst all this gloom, remember you can still win a 6-month ATVO subscription. Send me some feedback on yesterday’s free service – either through the comments here or by emailing it to me at eastlower AT googlemail.com with ‘ATVO Feedback’ in the subject line. You’ve got until the end of Monday night, GMT, to do it. I’ll select a winner after that.

Perhaps I’m being overly glum – if so, then I’m sorry to slash all over your Sunday. But that’s the way I’m feeling just now and it doesn’t feel good.

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