Daily Archives: March 4, 2016
Arsenal’s form in the turn of the new year has been very poor and it has been a major cause for concern.
January began with a narrow win over Newcastle before dispatching Sunderland in the FA Cup. The mid-week draw against Liverpool at Anfield was a bitter pill to swallow and it was followed by a fortunate draw against Stoke at the Britannia. Chelsea left North London with all three points but the win over Burnley in the FA Cup fourth round pleased the crowd. However, it was followed with a rather disappointing draw with Southampton, a comfortable win against struggling Bournemouth then there was that pulsating victory over Leicester that lifted the spirits and cut down the gap to two points.
Arsenal was buzzing and the fans were hopeful that things were going to turn for the best as the campaign progressed. The draw against Hull raised a few eyebrows but the Gunners still had the lottery of a replay to make things right and the match is coming up next week.
Then came the rot… starting with an expected home loss to Barcelona, where the fans were obviously disappointed with the result but couldn’t fault the performance of the players on the night. However, this has been followed up with two insipid and lackadaisical performances against Manchester United and Swansea, leaving the Gunners title hopes on a thin thread. The defeat to the Swans was more painful with the fact that Leicester, Tottenham and Man City all dropped points in the same week.
This weekend, Arsenal head to White Hart Lane for the biggest North London Derby in recent times, as both teams are currently chasing Leicester City for the Premier League trophy.
Just when you thought that the Gunners would use the fact that they were really close to Leicester City after defeating them last month as a motivation to fight till the end, the games against a weakened Manchester United and Swansea showed that the players lacked the mental fortitude to become Premier League champions. I even shared the same sentiment that Arsenal wasn’t good enough to win the title.
In a recent interview, Arsenal talisman, Alexis Sanchez, has shown his concerns about the mental state of the squad,
“I think we can win the Premier League with the players we have. That said, we lack a certain hunger. We need to step out onto the pitch as if we’re already 1-0 up.
We lack self-belief, that we can actually be champions. I remember a game against Manchester United last season. The lads looked hungry for silverware as we took to the pitch. We crushed them in the first 20 minutes and went 2-0 up. We were hungry and brimming with confidence that day.”
With perennial title favorites, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City struggling for form this season, the way was paved for Arsenal to make a statement and in Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech, the Gunners had players in good form. Ozil had amassed 16 assists in the first half of the season and Cech brought some calm to that back four, raking in clean sheets with consummate ease. In the turn of the year, Ozil has found it hard to maintain his mean streak with just two assists in his last 10 games.
Arsenal’s poor run of form has also coincided with Olivier Giroud’s barren run in front of goal. After missing a sitter against Swansea, the statisticians tell us that Giroud has clocked up 900 minutes of football without scoring a goal. When you add Theo Walcott’s anonymity in the games he plays, as well as Sanchez becoming very predictable you wouldn’t be surprised to see Arsene Wenger’s team doing badly in attack.
With injuries to Cech and Laurent Koscielny, one cannot help but the scared for what’s to come in the North London Derby. In recent weeks, Gabriel Paulista’s frailties have been badly exposed and one wonders if the manager might invest in another center back this summer.
Wenger has stated that he’s worried about his squad but he needs them to focus and return to the basics.
Let’s just hope the club’s form improves on Saturday.
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