I mentioned a few weeks ago that as long as Wenger is relaxed about the transfer situation when asked we will be OK, the first sign of a tetchy demeanour could mean that there is a little problem. Lo and behold, with just over a week of the window left the tetchy Wenger has well and truly arrived. Quizzed on transfers after a dour 0-0 draw with Leicester, you could see that he was notably cheesed off after a barrage of questions on transfers, the delay with transfers, the failed transfers and finally the flawed performance. Not the serene Wenger we are used to. Clearly agitated at our quite indifferent (and that’s being kind) start to the season. Circumstances and context are everything when talking about where we are and where we should be, for example, if we had brought in Mustafi a couple of weeks ago along with Mahrez and the world class striker we’re hunting for and still lost at home to Liverpool as well as taken a point against the Champions away from home you could say that’s an OK start. There’s room to improve. There’s something to work with. However the minute you say, we haven’t made the signings, we’ve still lost to Liverpool and we’ve drawn away to Leicester (even though they may be the Champions) and it looks bleak.
The problem right now is that there are multiple problems to address. There is not ‘one’ thing that we need to solve in order for our weekends to be filled with free flowing football and 3 points again. There are so many little things to resolve that they have amounted to what feels like staring into the abyss. Firstly we are lacking the personnel to go on and win this league. That much is clear. This is alongside the fact that all of our rivals have strengthened in significantly better ways than we have. Secondly, and most importantly in my eyes, we don’t seem to have a clear identity of football that we’re playing. There’s been no progress from last seasons system and it indicates that whomever we are likely to sign isn’t going to be too different profile wise to what we have. I know planning a way of playing likened to a player you don’t yet have isn’t the best idea, however considering we are missing key men to play the way we did last season, it feels lazy and complacent t carry on this way with the wrong personnel. Thirdly the players need a lift. They are almost just going through the motions simply because they feel nothing new is around them. There isn’t any further pressure for their places. There’s no new shiny thing around them that gives them some new found hope for the season ahead. Winning trophies in football can very much be likened to a spiritual saying I’ve heard. It’s like swimming up river, the minute you stop or stand still the current will take you. Stagnation is what looks to be dragging our existing world class talent down stream and something needs to change in order to lift the mood around the club at the moment. We are but two games into the season and there are already more and more vociferous calls for Wenger to leave. It’s not been a pretty start.
To the game itself. There was a massive surprise in the starting XI with Rob Holding picked ahead of Calum Chambers. What does that say for his career? What next for him? He’ll surely be loaned out, as when a 20 year old who was relegated from the Championship to League One is now ahead of you in the pecking order you may start to question where you are in your career. The only thing that I can align this to is that last seasons pairing of Chambers and Koscielny, when required, was a bit of a car crash. Holding might just be a more natural partner for Koscielny. That aside it was Alexis as the lone front man again with no change of formation. A very disconnected 4-2-3-1. We actually played some decent stuff in the first half albeit a little stop start. We looked like we wanted to make amends for last week and in turn looked determined to keep a clean sheet. The defending looked more assured, largely down to the immense Koscielny, but not only that, the cover in front of the defence looked to have a bit more bite within it. We created a couple of chances, the best coming indirectly from Santi Cazorla. He put in a gem of a cross that Koscielny almost latched onto, which produced a great save from Schmiechel. The second half produced a couple of half chances and one brilliant piece of football from us led to a Walcott chance from a Coquelin pass, however the shot was too tame to cause any real harm. Another chance for Walcott arrived, however when squaring for Giroud was the easier option that would have guaranteed a goal, it went begging due to greediness on Theo’s part. The game needed an injection of pace that Wilshere and Ozil provided, however it wasn’t enough. In fairness Leicester were far better than us in the second half. A great save from Cech, some brilliant defending from Koscielny and a terrible piece of refereeing helped us avoid defeat. That’s 2 games that have gone by in which defeat is what we probably deserved. The fact we’ve drawn the second of those games is progress. Minimal progress I hasten to add but progress nonetheless.
The next 10 days or so are now going to be huge for Arsenal football club. There’s no January to use as a fail safe. There are no more second chances or trophy wins in the previous season to give the manager any grace period. The time is now and nothing less than 2 brilliant coups in the transfer market will suffice. On top of that nothing less than 3 points at Watford will keep the baying fans satisfied going into an international break where pressure and rumour only intensify when the chips are down.
Come on Arsene. Make us all believe again.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.