Where now for Arsenal?

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Bolton 3-1 Arsenal

Another defeat, and to me personally, it feels as if Arsenal are at a bit of a crossroads.

It raised so many more questions than answers. Why do we persist in letting in the first goal? Is the mix between brains and brawn right in this side? Are some of our players past it, or just not good enough? Is the team lacking leadership?

I’m normally a positive man, as I was on your man’s arsecast, but yesterday’s performance really got me down. We’re still playing pretty football, but what use is that when teams have worked out how to take the sting out of us?

Why do we persist in letting in the first goal?

Possibly because at the moment we’re defending lazily. We’re switching off, time and again, and it’s got to stop. Yesterday’s first goal was just dreadful, and letting poor goals in has been a hallmark of this season. I’m in agreement with ANR about Eboue – I think he’s a massive asset going forward, but his defending can be awful. If he doesn’t improve that, then Hoyte needs to come in. Or better still, Lauren.

Another thing about Eboue – all that writhing around when there’s no earthly way he could have hurt himself does him no favours. He needs to concentrate on his football and cut out the theatrics.

Personally, I thought Clichy played pretty well yesterday, and we mustn’t forget that he’s still finding his feet after several years of injured inactivity. But as a unit, we’ve got to concentrate better.

Is the mix between brains and brawn right in this side?

It’s one thing to have small, skilful men, but against some teams – Bolton, always Bolton – do we need more raw power? Look at our five-man midfield yesterday. Walcott, Flamini, Hleb, Ljungberg, Fabregas.

Hleb, Rosicky, Walcott, Fabregas, Gilberto – all wonderful players, but none of them are able to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the Vieira mould. I guess that’s what Diaby’s for, but we don’t have him available.

Are some of our players past it, or just not good enough?

I’m in agreement with the arseblogger on Freddie – his best years appear to be behind him. He was ineffective yesterday, and although he wasn’t the only one, and you can’t question his energy, he’s not the dynamic player he once was. Nor can you question Flamini’s workrate, but workrate alone doesn’t make you a great player.

As for Adebayor – he’s got to improve too. I like the guy, and I think he does offer us something we don’t always have, but his finishing has been poor this season. He’s only 21, so he needs some slack to be cut, and we need to give him time. But when chances come his way, more often than not, right now, he’s just not taking them. He knows that, I presume, so it’s something to work on.

Is the team lacking leadership?

Maybe. We certainly don’t have a natural leader in the side, someone to bark at underperforming players, pick them when they’re down. You don’t always need that, but sometimes you just do.

Positives from yesterday? Yes, some. I thought Walcott was inventive, Clichy was quite dynamic, and Toure was his usual bustling self. Fabregas played well too, as did Senderos. In the second half we played well, hit the bar, and on a different day, who knows, we may have levelled things up.

The trouble is, on too many occasions this season we’re not marrying playing well with winning.


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