Crisis At The Grove?

Saturday’s nil-nil draw at the Grove against the Cottagers was a disappointment. A big one. We really needed the three points. Boos could be heard from a substantial number, although still a minority, of Gooners after the final whistle.
Nobody is more frustrated at our current inability to score than me. If we don’t start converting draws into wins soon there’s a danger we won’t qualify for next season’s Europa League, never mind the Champions League. That would be a blow to the club’s finances, not to say us the fans. We’ve all come to take Champions League nights for granted since we started our current eleven season run in the competition in 1998/9.
No club should expect a seat at Europe’s top table as of right however. It should be earned on the park. If we don’t finish in the European qualifying places then we won’t deserve the reward of European away-days. Simple as that.
A significant number of Gooners now want Wenger out. It hasn’t turned into open calls for his head – yet. It will soon I think, especially if we end up out of Europe and with no trophies to show for this season.
I can sort of see where a lot of supporters are coming from. We all pay big money for our tickets. As has been demonstrated time and again though, money is not a guarantee of success. I don’t think Arsčne is perfect. I still think he’s one of the top managers in the world. He has already earned his place in the Arsenal pantheon alongside Herbert Chapman.
I can see no point whatsoever in trying to second guess the manager at the moment. No amount of whinging and booing is going to bring us the silverware and glory we all crave so much. Let us also not forget that we are unbeaten in fourteen games in all competitions since the loss to Porto in Portugal last December. The problem is the nine draws. If we can find some goals we might still take something out of this season. I confess I’m still not  convinced by our defending, albeit that we’ve kept nine clean sheets in our latest unbeaten run. We still look too brittle at the back for my liking.
At this stage of the season focus is all. We’ve got an important trip to the West Midlands coming up on Tuesday night to play the Baggies. If we don’t win there it’ll be a huge mountain to climb to continue Champions League football next season. We need to concentrate all our efforts on Tuesday.
In a disappointingly toothless display against Fulham the silver lining for me was Nicklas Bendtner’s performance after his arrival as a substitute in the second half. He was all but unrecognisable from the player he was earlier the week against AS Roma. If he could turn in that sort of committed performance every week we’d all be happy. I’ve seen it suggested in some quarters that Bendtner’s best role may be as an impact substitute. There may be something in that. His goal as a substitute against Spuds at the Grove will always be engraved in my heart. Making a late entrance into the box rigged for silent running he scored a classic headed goal. We need more of that from him,  allied to his general play against Fulham.
Let’s put all our angst and doubts to one side for the moment and concentrate on three points against the Baggies tomorrow night. At least Stoke got a point at Villa Park yesterday which means we’ve lost no ground on Villa. Liverpool losing was a result for us too, although we’re running out of games to make up the ground and Everton are closing in behind us. At least Spurs lost in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley yesterday. Cue the schadenfreude!
Keep the faith!

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