Disturbed. That is the adjective best to summarise the feeling Arsenal fans should be experiencing tonight. Not just palpable anger towards the heartless performance they just witnessed; but they should feel haunted by the idea that the new group of Arsenal players aren’t that different to the ones that have left in the last few years.
Why the negativity? Lets place things into a wider perspective. Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Man City had us all disillusioned far beyond any of us would like to admit. While many argued it highlighted heart and grit from this new Arsenal side, more could be attributed to the form of Man City, which would lead some to question how we did not dismantle them. A ruthless Arsenal of the past would have.
Another game that brought more unrealistic belief was the game at Anfield. This was against a Liverpool that, until today, have only beaten two teams this year at home. It is also a team that, according to Brendan Rodgers, are miles behind Arsenal, which is arguably his framework team.
What else has been great this season that would suggest much has changed? A draw at Stoke? I don’t think we can solely rely on this point to reap positives. The lack of goals? This positive diminishes more and more with every goal conceded. The magic of Cazorla? The French goalscorer Giroud? The experience and skill of Podolski? The youth coming through the ranks? My reply: 07-08. There is no escalation of talent from the team of five years ago. We have not improved nor weakened in a great amount. Sadly it is new faces, same team.
This isn’t even the disturbing part.
The real concern is the recurrence of placid performances. We have just witnessed something we have grown accustomed to in recent years. We have become predictable. This isn’t an argument against the way we play football, because after all we play it the right way. But the right way has to also know how to get the job done. So often have we lost to those in the lower echelons of the league. Fixtures that used to be a foregone conclusion before half-time are now hair-pulling matches that often result in a late equaliser or, in today’s case, a loss. Now I wouldn’t argue the Arsenal of today are easy to beat, what I would suggest, though, is that it is less of a challenge to get something from us. Two lines of four, to place it in its simplest form, is a hurdle we too often falter at. Compare our performances against these teams with those from Man City and Man Utd and they are polar opposites.
I’m not going to end this sceptical blog with some witch hunt on Arsene and the board, as some might have thought it may be heading towards. I am pro Arsene. What I’m merely suggesting is for a more realistic frame of mind. As much as many wouldn’t like to admit it, money talks and we cannot compete with those who have it. We are, sadly, a team in transition; and any trophy we pick up on the way will be a bonus. For those who would argue that I have fallen for the Wenger excuses, I’d ask them why so many great teams go for decades without a trophy? We will see the fruition of our master plan eventually, I just hope that Wenger inherits most of the praise.