Any title resurgence following Arsenal’s uplifting 5-0 triumph against Southampton in the F.A Cup, we diminished following successive defeats to Watford at home and then Chelsea away. It now seems that our annual scrap for top four has kicked off, as the WOB make themselves heard again.
Home to Watford was a dismal performance, on a day where we could’ve closed the gap on Chelsea, instead Arsenal being Arsenal, blew away the opportunity. Team selection was the main cause for defeat, as Wenger opted to leave out Perez, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck – who all had impressive performances against Southampton. In addition, Gabriel was his choice of right back despite the fact that Bellerin was on the bench, which was perhaps the most peculiar decision from the boss. Watford’s first goal was fortunate, but their second goal epitomizes Arsenal’s defensive flaws, a poor throw in was followed up by Capoue to seemingly stroll into the Arsenal box and get away a shot that resulted in Deeney’s tap in. There was no midfield challenge or desire to follow up on Cech’s save. In a season there can only be a limited amount of occasions that you can pull of a comeback, and in truth recent fight backs and last minute goals against clearly weaker opposition have papered over cracks that persist in the side.
Arsenal losing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge seems to be one of life’s rare constants, and it was a typical Arsenal performance at the Bridge. We showed early glimpses of hope, but eventually Chelsea’s advantage in class and passion overhauled us. Alonso’s goal wasn’t a foul – and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for our defeat, we lost because we are simply not good enough to challenge sides like Chelsea away from home. Hazard’s goal was similar to Deeney’s as again we let a player slide through our entire side without any meaningful attempt to bring him down. Key area of underperformance: lack of leadership – an issue that has surrounded the club for years now.
So what now? Out of the title race, Arsene Wenger should be seriously reviewing his options with his contract. Personally, I believe his time has come to depart – despite all the fantastic work he has done. Arsenal require a new man, to bring the club forwards, and attempt to change the ‘same old mistakes’ that linger. We have entered the ‘Wenger Out’ cycle of the season, which most predicted. The current feeling of stagnation has lasted for several years in truth – has much really changed since we left Highbury? Are we any closer to winning the league since the 2006/07 season in reality? Were we right to leave Highbury?
From here I still feel confident Arsenal will finish in the top four, although if we finish outside the Champions League it could have its benefits in the long run.