Even the day after, the pain is still as strong as it was yesterday. The typical “Arsenal way” to cock things up is something all Arsenal fans can relate to and once we got to the last 10 minutes and it was still 1-1, we all knew something bad was going to happen.
But why isn’t it a surprise that we managed to cock things up in the most monumental fashion?
Hand on heart, you weren’t surprised something like this happened did you?
And why is this? I touched on it yesterday but the fact is Arsenal reward failure and have done for the last 7 seasons. There is no doubt that the team, in footballing terms at least, is supremely talented. That cannot be disputed and proof of this has come in many memorable victories, including those in Europe over Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan, etc.
But over the last few seasons we’ve struggled domestically. Our record against the Top 4 is appalling and our ridiculous collapse against Tottenham at The Emirates sums up the mental fragility throughout the squad. Only recently, we unfathomably let slip a 4 goal lead against Newcastle United.
A 4 goal lead!
Now say that again to yourself.
A FOUR GOAL LEAD.
It was interesting to note from the comments yesterday that because I ridiculously criticised the team for their performance against Birmingham that somehow I was a Spurs supporter or a “fair weather fan”. That notion is preposterous and not that it matters, but I have supported Arsenal Football Club since I was 5 years old and they are firmly in my heart. When Arsenal lose it hurts me immensely, but when they lose in ridiculous fashion it hurts even more. Yesterday’s defeat is something which still hurts now and will do for the next few weeks.
Because we all knew it signified a new era for Arsenal, but instead it represented broken promises. They say it’s not the despair but the hope that kills you and for Arsenal fans this sums it all up. This Arsenal team does what no other top team does and capitulates when under any kind of sustained pressure. Without Fabregas we lacked any kind of cohesion and an in form Arsenal would have won comfortably. We’ve beat Birmingham twice already this season but yesterday Arsenal beat themselves. It wasn’t because Birmingham were the better team, it was because Arsenal couldn’t take that next step.
The first trophy is always the hardest and ironically this was the easiest to win. Arsenal were in a one-off game against a side that currently sit 16th in the Premier League. They have scored the least number of goals out of any of the 20 teams in the league and yet they scored twice yesterday and could have scored more in all honesty. Birmingham played well because we let them.
This Arsenal side cannot cope under pressure so the notion that they have “3 other competitions to fight for” is surely a million miles away. Yes we currently sit 2nd in the league but United have a team full of winners that can grind out results when they’re not playing well. Victory yesterday on the performance Arsenal put in would have been the blueprint for how resilient we were and proof that we can win ugly when it mattered. The last significant game where Arsenal ground out a result was in the FA Cup Final in 2005.