It looked for so long this season that Arsenal were in the title race for the long haul and had every chance of capturing the elusive prize.

People were waiting for Arsenal to stumble but they just refused to lie down and kept up the pace with Chelsea and Manchester City.

However, it looks as if that time is nearly here again. A 5-1 defeat at Anfield sent alarm bells ringing with all Arsenal fans and the failure to beat a poor Manchester United at the Emirates added to a bad few days for Arsenal.

While Giroud tries hard and works a lot for the team, you can't help but feel if Arsenal had another striker with a more clinical nature that they would have taken a valuable three points off United and be with every chance of winning the title.

In a season of total unpredictability, Arsenal surprised many by doing so well but with an extremely difficult set of fixtures ahead for the north London side they are the side under the real pressure to not only keep up the title push but to stay in control of a top four spot with their arch-rivals Spurs now within striking distance.

Suddenly there are cracks beginning to appear in the Arsenal side and their failure to win the 'big games' could prove very costly.

Many people are pointing the blame at Arsenal's record signing, Mesut Ozil. While nobody can question Ozil's talent, it seems as if the German international can seem disinterested at times and goes missing when Arsenal need him the most.

Ozil looks like he could do with a small break as he looks tired, having played virtually every game since signing for Arsenal.

Ozil is very much an Arsenal player, very composed and comfortable on the ball with the capability of opening up a defence with the killer ball. I feel Ozil is frustrated at the minute as the current Arsenal side lack pace and midfield runners, with the losses of Walcott and Ramsey now becoming even bigger blows.

It was clear in January that Arsenal needed to sign another striker and Wenger's failure to do so could very much cost Arsenal the silverware they badly want and need. Wenger's failure to play Lukas Podolski is hard to understand considering Giroud needs help upfront and Wenger described Podolski as "the most natural finisher I have worked with".

Arsenal simply didn't show up at Anfield and really did not look like a side chasing a title at home to Manchester United. It is hard to say exactly what it is, but Arsenal always seem to fall at some stage of a season which rules them out of winning any trophies.

This hasn't quite happened yet this season, but the signs are there that it very possibly could.

Arsenal's squad will certainly be stretched over the next few months with a series of demanding and tough fixtures with the Gunners facing a two legged champions league game with Bayern Munich, home games to Liverpool (FA Cup) and Manchester City in the league, while they face trips to Chelsea, Spurs and Everton.

A huge few months ahead for this Arsenal side who are starting to show their first sign of weakness this season as they begin to look leggy and lacking in ideas. Arsene Wenger knows and believes in these players and must steady the ship in order to save their great first half of the season going to waste.

With the business end approaching, it will be interesting to see if this Arsenal side have the character required to go the full way. It has been a very long time ago since Patrick Vieira scored the winning penalty in the FA Cup final against Manchester United in 2005.

Arsenal's real season and tests start now with the next three league games all winnable and they must collect 9 points out of 9 to give themselves a real chance and the belief that they can do so.

A series of questions have been aimed at Wenger and these players, and the demanding fixtures over the next few months will certainly provide the answers. 

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