West Brom Shambles

Ahead of yesterday’s match against West Brom, fellow blogger Carl Eldridge wrote that the game was “a must-win for us if we have any hope of challenging for the title. Three points up for grabs and must be taken, no messing”. I’m sure Carl won’t appreciate me dredging up that quote, but after Saturday’s disaster, it’s interesting to take a look at how our season’s shaping up. And while hope for the Premier League hasn’t vanished, it’s certainly faded slightly.
Played six, won three, drawn two, lost one. What was a promising first four games to the season has quickly evolved into a rather dodgy-looking half dozen. If we don’t take any points from our trip to Stamford Bridge next week, we’ll be looking at one point from the last nine available – a sobering statistic.
Now I’m not resigning us to defeat at the hands of Chelsea, but losing to West Brom and drawing with Sunderland has made that journey across London more dangerous than ever. I still believe our squad has the ability to cause an upset at Chelsea, but thanks to those five recently dropped points, we now have no choice but to demand a win against the Blues. A victory over the reigning champions in their own backyard would, I’m sure, tend to the wounds we’ve suffered over the last two games. Another consecutive loss and our title challenge, while still premature, would be considerably less stable.
Our embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Baggies did illuminate something yesterday – how vital Cesc Fabregas is to our team. We’ve struggled to penetrate Premiership opposition when Fabregas hasn’t been playing – just look at the game yesterday, our opener against Liverpool, and the second half against Sunderland. But Cesc or no Cesc, Arsenal should still be able to take three points from a home tie against ‘yoyo team’ West Bromwich Albion. I think Wenger accurately mirrored the opinions of the fans when he said that he just didn’t know what happened to his team.
I’m hoping that the loss we suffered yesterday was a mere blip in what was appearing to be a promising season. We played so awfully yesterday, I can’t help but think that we simply can’t play that badly again, at least not at The Grove. But yet again, while it’s not an excuse for the piss-poor performance, our biggest problem is our injuries. Only six games into the league and we’re already missing our best striker, our leading goal-scorer, our best midfielder and our best defender. While nobody knows the true cause of this, I don’t agree with the fans who claim we need to employ a whole new medical team. If I were to make a guess, I’d say that our quick ‘pass-and-move’ style of play simply makes it a lot more difficult for opposition to time their tackles on us correctly. But whatever the cause, the effect is damaging our campaign already.
I would be as bold to say that if Fabregas doesn’t turn out for the starting eleven against Chelsea next week, we won’t win. That’s purely speculation ofcourse, what I can say for sure is that if we play like we did against West Brom again, we’ll be on the receiving end of a proper belting. But not wanting to end on such a cynical note, let’s hope for a positive midweek result against Partizan Belgrade which spring-boards us into a Fabregas-fuelled encounter with the champions next week. Our captain has the ability to, quite literally, lead us to a victory against any team in the world and with the possible return of Thomas Vermaelen, maybe hoping for an away win over the Blues next week might not be quite as ridiculous as it seemed yesterday.
Finally, am I alone in thinking that Mannone or Szczesny deserve a chance to steal a first-team slot, starting against Partizan on Tuesday?

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