“Really? Well, that’s vintage Arsenal.”

Those were the exact words from Mrs Lower when I came home last night and she asked me what the score was (she’s not into this football thing you see, and at times like this, I can’t say I blame her).

It was indeed vintage poor defending that got us into another fine mess, and vintage park-on-the-edge-of-the-area, out-of-ideas stuff that made for a second half of infuriating frustration.

Then in a year of handbrakes on and being too much in the wanting zone came There Wasn’t Enough Petrol in the Tank.

It would certainly explain our second half performance, which was as flat as a pancake. Instead of fizzing with energy and guile and determination – which we had done when we found ourselves two goals down after six minutes in the first half – we ran worryingly out of steam.

Wigan, spurred on by a miniscule band of fans – easily the smallest away section I have ever seen at the Emirates, let’s call it an away slice – were absolutely terrific though. If you take away the persistent time-wasting and the lighter-than-air toppling to the ground, which the referee largely either let go until it was too late, or fell for, they were a menace all night. They caused us constant problems defensively, where without Koscielny and Gibbs – 50% of our first choice back four – we looked ragged.

For the first goal we were well and truly suckered on the counter following a misplaced Sagna header. The second looked to me like Szczesny could have done better, but equally true, we were down to ten men as Arteta had hobbled off. Either way, it was a disastrous start.

The rest of the half was as you’d expect – Arsenal wounded and furious. Benny had two excellent headers acrobatically saved, Vermaelen scored a lovely header and it looked for all the world, if we could keep it up, that the game could yet be salvaged.

That we couldn’t keep it up and in fact fizzled out at such an important time is a cause for worry. “We didn’t see anyone who could make a difference”, said Wenger after the game, “…We have given a lot over the past two or three months and we were not sharp. Is it mental or physical? It is hard to know why.”

I think we missed the invention and calm of Arteta more than we think, and the worry is that we might now be missing that for the rest of the season – as indeed, it has been confirmed, we will be missing Wilshere.

That’s now ten league defeats – a tally that makes it slightly miraculous we are chasing third at all. I’m not sure we could have timed it worse, throwing the door for third and fourth open again once more rather than slamming it shut.

But again, well done Wigan – it was a well deserved win and we were, in the end, well beaten.

And who’s next? Chelsea at home and our old friends Stoke away.

Time to wheel out Djourou online for some damage limitation.

Arsenal match report: Too much in the ‘wanting zone’

Arsenal 1-1 Wolves

Twenty-seven attempts on goal, eleven attempts on target, thirteen corners, one goal. Frustrating, to say the least. The goals have dried up again at home (three in three league games – conceding two in the process), giving Wenger a fresh headache to mull over as we head into the New Year.

But as the stats suggest, you can’t really fault us for effort. The thing that struck me most yesterday was that, unlike the Arsenal of old, we didn’t wait until the 75th minute to crank the all-out attack handle. We were at Wolves’ throats from about the 60th minute. The lurid Hennessey happened to swat away everything we threw at him. I lost count of the amount of times I found myself with my head in my hands, practically kneeling, as another goalbound effort pinged off to safety. That’s football I suppose.

One other thing that was very noticeable was our lack of pace and width. Our game relies on our full-backs motoring forward, and pacy outlets on the wing, but didn’t have anything like that yesterday in the starting eleven. Having Vermaelen at left-back is like driving a Ferrari on a farm track. But what can you do? All four of our full-backs have long-term injuries (stress fracture, broken leg, ankle ligament damage and bizarre unhealing groin). Walcott was out ill.

Oxlade-Chamberlain could have supplied some of that but he remained glued to the bench as Arshavin and Chamakh entered fruitlessly into the fray. Neither man was able to make much of a difference, which will not surprise seasoned watchers of the spectacularly out-of-form duo. What does the Ox have to do, one wonders? Well, this one does, anyway.

As for the Wolves goal, we have ourselves to blame. A ruthless team when 1-0 up early in the game should go for the jugular, but yesterday our level seemed to drop. Complacency? Hard to say, but possibly.

Nevertheless, Walcott or no Walcott, full-backs or none, dodgy period after our goal or not, we should have won the game yesterday. It just never quite happened. Wolves were dogged.

It’s easy to suggest we have no plan B, and watching us toil on the edge of the box is pretty frustrating, but without the right balance in our team, it’s bound to have a detrimental effect. And besides, we did genuinely pepper their goal.

Nevertheless, the squad would patently benefit from a few new faces in January. Someone who can score goals when van Persie doesn’t would be a good starting point. Park’s “adaptation period” is apparently over but can we expect miracles from a player who has not been trusted to play a single minute of Premier League football in four months?

We’ve come a long way since our early-season punch-drunkenness, the spirit is good, but a new face or two would lift everyone. Can you imagine Chelsea, Liverpool or Spurs are not thinking along the same lines?

A lot of money was splurged last January – none at Arsenal. It’s not the best time to buy, but it can make a difference. Wenger tried it in 2009 when we need a spike by signing Arshavin – to initial success. I’m not saying buying new faces is the be-all and the end-all but why leave our improvement to chance?

PS – One excellent new addition to the Wenger lexicon. “We were a bit too much in the ‘wanting zone'”.

It’s the new handbrake.