Same Old Arsenal Just Never Learn




Loads of possession, lots of chances and no goals. Sound familiar? You could probably pick out countless games from the last decade that resemble that exact formula. Arsenal continue to frustrate and yet again show the exact same frailties that have restricted previous teams assembled by Arsene Wenger.

I left the Emirates on Tuesday night far angrier than I have been at any point this season. Why? Because Arsenal never learn. In a season where we have been presented with a golden opportunity to end our Premier League trophy drought, we appear to be doing everything possible to ensure we pass it up.

We are two points better off at this stage of the campaign than we were at the same point last season. Bearing in mind we were appalling for the first half of last season, that really is telling. For weeks now, I have written this column with a sense of optimism and attempted to explain why things aren’t quite as bad as they seen. My patience is waning.

Since January 2nd, we have picked up just three points. We’ve gone from sitting pretty at the top of the table to loitering in that old familiar fourth position. To make matters even worse, Tottenham have overtaken us and look good value for it. That pains me to say, but it is completely justified.

Remember that team that blew Manchester United out of the water in the opening 20 minutes? We have seen them on far to few occasions this year. I look at Spurs playing freely and putting three or four goals past opponents to win games they should be winning, whereas we struggle to just about get over the finishing line. Take our last league win against Newcastle United as a case in point. We were poor from start to finish and just about secured the three points.

At the time, I remember thinking it was the sort of game that Champions win. In reality, it was the sort of game that Arsenal sometimes win, but more often than not, come unstuck. Yes, we have had a lot of injuries, but with players coming back we don’t look any better. Francis Coquelin will no doubt improve us immeasurably when he returns to full fitness, but with Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hopelessly out of form (to name but a few!), we simply don’t look like we have it in us to mount a serious title challenge.

Danny Welbeck will be a welcome addition to the squad when he eventually proves his fitness, but it is worth noting that he has been missing for nine months. How quickly will he be able to get back to fitness and offer us a valuable alternative? We need only look at how long it took Walcott to return to full fitness last season after almost a year out to show the length of time it can really take for a player to return. For the sake of our title charge, I hope Welbeck is an exception to the rule.

Our next two fixtures see us travel to Bournemouth on Sunday before hosting Leicester City at home on Valentines Day. We have to win both of those games if we are to have any chance of overhauling the five points separating the top four. Does that look likely at this stage? Absolutely not. Looking at the way Leicester dismantled Liverpool on Tuesday, will they be intimidated by a trip to the Emirates? I leave you to answer that one.

You really could pick apart every aspect of this team at the moment, but that would serve just to anger me further. Because of this crazy season, we are not out of the title race. But unless we get our act together quickly, we are far more likely to find ourselves in a familiar battle for fourth than being in the running for the title in May.



Gooner Ramble

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