When Arsenal perished at the last 16 of the Champions League, the sense of deja vu was starkly overwhelming. Just as it seemed Arsenal would finally break the hoodoo at this stage of the competition, the shortcomings were firmly exposed by AS Monaco.
Whilst criticism is always hurled at the maligned players, Arsene Wenger's trophy-laden start to his tenure deems him immune.
As Arsenal rightly merit the plaudits going their way at present, this is an all too familiar tale for fans. They have witnessed their side start off the season impressively, then fade just enough to consolidate a spot in the coveted top four.
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Whilst Arsenal were nestling at the summit of the Premier League in February last season, grey clouds were waiting in the wings to cast shadows over the Emirates Stadium.
Injuries were cited as the chief reason behind Arsenal's dramatic, but anticipated, fall from first to fourth, however, the heavy defeats–6-0 to Chelsea, 5-1 to Liverpool and 3-0 to Everton–stipulated the inadequate coaching at the club.
Admittedly, Arsenal have come quite some way to repair the damaged persona affiliated with the club. The most recent win against Liverpool was another step in the right direction. However, Wenger's deficiencies are being concealed momentarily.
Giroud's goal glut
In form striker Olivier Giroud is undergoing an irresistible purple patch to haul Arsenal up the table. The Frenchman's impressive artistic link-up play with Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey has the ensued in Arsenal showcasing a joyful brand of football.
In spite of Giroud's goal glut, the 28-year-old is notoriously known for squandering chances when it matters. The defeat to Monaco saw Giroud flounder every opportunity he was presented with, as the flat-track bully label settled.
The win at Manchester City set a benchmark for Arsenal; a blueprint to revisit when travelling to the big boys. Yet, the ignominious outings at Spurs and Monaco evoked the notion that Arsenal will simply never prosper with Wenger at the helm. The same blunders are duplicated time and time again.
Learning his lesson
Arsenal cannot wait for Wenger to learn. The 65-year-old has had ample time to rectify any flaws in his managing ammunition. Remarkably, he has not mastered how to mobilise a mean defence and is the chief cause behind the injury curse striking Arsenal annually.
Resting in second place, Arsenal are mathematically in with a chance of lifting the premier league title, but the level-headed fans are conscious of Arsenal's famous bottle job when it gets tough- as seen in erstwhile years. When the storm subsides, Arsenal look like a collection of world beaters- signifying the incompetence in dealing with high-pressured situations.
It is a habitual theme witnessing Arsenal go through the magnificent form when there is no pressure. As the pressure is sure to be cranked up in the upcoming weeks, the steely side of the side will be under the microscope. Regrettably, Wenger has a habit of generating lofty aspirations that cannot simply obtain.
With Chelsea set to come to town and a trip to Manchester United ominously close, the results will paint a more realistic picture on Wenger's competency. FA cup triumph and a second place would represent a marginal improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.
If Arsenal are to challenge for the Premier League and Champions league trophies, Arsene Wenger must take huge strides towards his optimum form. However, just as significant wins marked the sign of a new era, poor displays have set the club backwards. It is time for the veteran to call it a day and leave the club in the hands of a hungrier, tactically adept manager.