Is it happening again?
It looks as though once again, Arsenal will finish the Champions’ League group stage as runners up behind PSG. In recent campaigns the Gunners have often failed to win their group and as a consequence been drawn against the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the last 16.
Arsenal tend to throw the tie away in the first leg with a disappointing home performance, thus leaving themselves with an almost impossible task going into the second leg. The second leg arrives and free from the weight of expectation the Gunners often produce one of their strongest performances of the season.
Flirting with the possibility of completing the mother of all comebacks, yet just falling short. Sound familiar? Well it should do by now because it’s been happening for as long as I can remember.
Let’s not forget we still have match day 6 to come and so it’s not unthinkable that we could still top the group. However, with PSG welcoming Ludogorets to the Parc Des Princes and us travelling to Basel I wouldn’t bet on it.
Arsenal have failed to perform anywhere near the levels we are capable of in the last 3 fixtures. Consecutive draws with Spurs, Man Utd & PSG are respectable results in isolation but it’s the performances that are a cause for concern.
Our spark is missing, there’s a lack of creativity and the fluidity you associate with Arsenal is no longer there for the neutral to admire.
The imbalance in our midfield is clear for all to see. The absence of Santi Cazorla has had a far greater affect than anyone could have imagined. Despite having a number of options in Xhaka, El Neny, Coquelin and Ramsey, none of the aforementioned players posses similar qualities or attributes to the little spaniard.
It’s hard to judge Granit Xhaka completely until he has a consistent run of games in the side but what I can tell you for certain is that none of the others mentioned are comfortable enough on the ball and all of them are lacking in terms of creativity.
We are missing our deep-lying playmaker and I fear if he remains sidelined for too much longer we could see our title chances fade away.
Hector Bellerin put a smile on all of our faces this week by committing his long term future to the club. Without doubt the best full back in the league and certainly one of the best in Europe. He’s no doubt been a huge component of our recent success and we are evidently missing his ability to join in the play and carry the ball down the right hand side.
It’s clear to see the gulf in class between Bellerin and Jenkinson and you’d be silly to underestimate the impact this is having on our attacking play.
Olivier Giroud has been in fine form of late and although he got his name on the score sheet again, his overall performance last night was disappointing. There’s a clear lack of mobility and he’s inability to press allows the opposition to settle on the ball in defensive areas. What he does give you is a target, somebody that can hold up the ball and an aerial threat of real potency – assuming he gets the service.
Who should start up front versus Bournemouth on Sunday and what should the midfield pairing be? These are the big decisions Wenger faces going into the weekend and he cannot afford to get it wrong versus a useful Bournemouth side.
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Is it happening again?
Arsenal are a side lacking ideas and it appears as though some of our stars are running on empty. We need to find some inspiration from somewhere and despite failing to win in the last 3, I have to agree with Mr Wenger, it’s a bit early to panic and say ‘It’s happening again!’
There is still a lot of football to be played this season 😉