As we enter December, we currently sit in 10th position in the Premier League, having earned 21 points from 15 games. We’re below Swansea, Stoke and West Ham, and 5 points off our target of 4th place.
Manchester United and Manchester City are on another level, and it looks more and more likely it’s going to be a two horse race.
Chelsea started the season in fantastic form, but are struggling of late, with Rafa taking on the reigns at most insecure job in football. How he is better than Di Matteo at this stage of the season is mind-boggling but that’s another debate for another day.
So we have Chelsea and Tottenham fighting for 3rd and 4th place and have Everton and West Brom in good form so far. So where does that leave Arsenal?
Arsene’s admission a few weeks ago that the players were tired was pretty unbelievable. How can you say that half way through November? The state of the squad is entirely up to the manager and the board, and I’m not being funny but professional footballers should be able to play 2/3 games in a week.
The tiredness excuse is something that has always bugged me whenever managers have used it but to keep repeating it week after week is ridiculous. It seems that whenever we lose or draw, that’s the go to excuse. Mind you, I suppose it makes a change from blaming the referee, blaming the pitch or blaming the other teams tactics.
Which was a problem for Wenger yesterday. He couldn’t blame the referee, he obviously couldn’t blame the pitch and he couldn’t blame Swansea’s tactics either. They took the game to Arsenal and if I am being completely objective, they really should have won by 5 or 6 if they weren’t so wasteful in front of goal. I don’t have the statistics to hand, but they had more clear cut chances than we managed to create.
Perversely, because of Swansea’s wastefulness, we could have stolen the 3 points. At 0-0, we had a couple of chances to score what would have been a completely undeserved opener.
But why are things so bad? It’s the worse start to a season (doesn’t this sound familiar?) in the Arsene era and our worst start since the 1994-1995 season, when George Graham got sacked in February.
Will the same thing happen to Wenger? I jest, I jest.
But where do we draw the line? It has been 7 seasons since we’ve won anything and the same things keep happening over and over again. We lose our best players and replace them with players that are still good but not quite at the same level.
It is only because of Arsenal’s spin that we are not more outraged. Players such as Van Persie, Adebayor, Nasri, Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb and Song are all made out to be mercenaries that are only interested in money, and people we don’t want associated with our “honest club”. But these players are all first team members that were obviously good enough for Arsenal. And the contract situations we find ourselves in are crazy – how many players have been allowed to get into their last year of their deals? Does this stupid thing happen at other clubs? Would Alex Ferguson let this happen at United? The biggest clubs in Europe might have one or two players that wind down their contracts but it doesn’t happen as much as it does at Arsenal.
We try and get 4th spot every year and to Arsene’s credit, even though we’ve had a lot of highs and lows over the last few years he’s always delivered Champions League football.
And maybe we should all stop worrying and see where we are in May.
But it is hard to ignore the squads of Chelsea (who should finish 3rd) and Tottenham, the biggest threat to 4th spot. Everton have been excellent this season but there’s always a question mark over the depth of their squad. West Brom and Swansea have been doing well so far and hopefully, their good form won’t last forever.
The frustration is even more so because of the start we made to the season. For a run of games we had the best defence in the league. We looked more solid but that has gone to pot, partly because of the injury to Diaby. How can we go from one extreme to the other in such a short space of time? Were the first 6/7 games of the season lucky clean sheets? How can Arsenal just lose their defensive discipline?
At least with a tight defence we have something to build on but without that we are fighting a losing battle every time we step on the pitch.
Maybe we shouldn’t worry and see if Arsenal pulls it out of his magic hat once again.