Today’s performance against Fulham has confirmed what many of us have feared: Arsenal’s decline in form and performances are of a structural nature, rather than a periodic blip.
Every recent game has seen shoots of improvement: Wilshere’s return has given us more dominance of the midfield; Theo’s return on the wing has helped with us scoring more goals; and Giroud is slowly coming good.
However, as today’s game showed once again, Arsenal continue to struggle with their own identity; we are shapeless, plan-less, and organisation-less. The 4-3-3 formation is not working for us at all.
We keep playing the same midfielders who are exhausted and simply unable to dominate our midfield anymore. Arsenal are often outnumbered in midfield by opponents and I have seldom or never seen us so bad at both passing the ball round with real verve and intent, and hunting down opponents from the moment we lose the ball. We look knackered, clueless and lost at sea.
Our defence is all over the place: we got beaten from a set-piece, a counter-attack, and from a simple penetration of our penalty box (by giving away a penalty). There is no cohesion or systemic play between our defenders at the moment; no shape, no organisation and no believe.
We are all over the place and nobody is taking command. TV should do it but cannot do it, Mertesacker can do it but is not the captain. Mannone is trying hard but is visibly not part of the defence and is left to his own devices far too much.
I am sure somebody has figured it out by now, but when was the last time Arsenal gave away a 2-0 lead to go behind to 2-3? Unbelievable! We are 11 games into the season and there are no excuses anymore: let’s get back to basics again and defend a clean sheet at all cost.
Arsenal scored five goals in five days and there is hope that we are finally getting back to a semblance of a strike force. However, as a unit the strikers are all over the place and offer very little support to our beleaguered midfield, with the exception of Giroud. OG should still improve further on his ability to hold on to the ball and shield it better, but at least he is now getting better in this area. But Podolski and Theo have both been rubbish at making themselves available and holding on to the ball. As a trio: Giroud, Theo and Podolski need to gel a lot more, but this should hopefully improve over time.
Just like around this time last year, we are operating with three autonomous mini-teams – defence, midfield and attack – who are not linking up enough with their counterparts in order to help each other. Arsenal are definitely less than the sum of its parts at the moment, and by the looks of it this is not going to change any time soon.
There are very dark clouds gathering above Ashburton Grove and Arsene has his work cut out to make a swift and lasting improvement.
Patience and time are running out, and Arsene and Steve better put their sleeves up to take us once more to the land of Wengerbal.