No, I’m not talking about the old Arsenal that expertly held one goal leads under George Graham or the earlier Arsene Wenger model that brushed teams aside with lightning counter attacks.
This is the same old Arsenal of recent years, where great potential has been so cruelly undermined by inexplicable inconsistency.
The previous four days have, sadly, epitomised the previous four or so years for the Gunners. A performance of such listlessness at home against a energetic and dynamic Newcastle side followed by an incisive battling win at Wolves.
Supporters must continually be asking themselves if the days of Henry et al will ever return. It seems every time Arsenal have turned this recently much discussed ‘corner’, they are then bamboozled by another trigonometric obstacle; are they just going in circles?
It’s difficult to point out exactly why; one week this team can produce worshipful football and tear opponents to pieces and the next they seem as toothless and ineffective as a geriatric house cat, unable to tear anything other than a hamstring or calf muscle.
The Newcastle loss was down to poor finishing and coming up against opponents who had set themselves a rigid game plan and stuck to it unfalteringly.
Chris Hughton probably actually said to himself while spinning his grand designs that ‘if we can keep it tight and maybe snatch a goal then we could maybe get something out of this’.
The game played out exactly as well as he could have hoped for, it was a testament to organisation, discipline and having a massive striker who can get on the end of anything in the air, in the vicinity.
Added to this was a lack of precision in Arsenal’s passing and finishing and maybe a little bit of underestimation. West Brom did something similar a few weeks back in surprising Arsenal with how many man they threw forward in to counter attacks.
The goings on at Wolves this week can only best be described as ‘Championship luck-making’ in that Arsenal were clinical – up to a point – in sandwiching a game they were rarely in control of with two well taken goals.
Arsenal could have had themselves to blame once again after missing three other relatively easy chances – Wolves easily could, and probably should, have scored on more than one occasion.
Wolves furiously knocked at the door, but another encouraging performance from Lukasz Fabianski saved Arsenal’s bacon (sorry, I couldn’t help it) – even more encouraging when you recall it was his misjudgement that led to Newcastle’s winner on Sunday.
Will this be the most closely fought and unpredictable Premier League in years? Newcastle are only six points above the relegation zone and they are fifth!
So, Arsenal are once again back in the title race after being out of it four days ago...or were they still in it? Who is out of it this week?
Anyway, the Manchester derby means Arsenal go close to United and further away from City but Chelsea are still five points ahead.
The disappointment of Sunday’s loss to Newcastle was compounded by watching Chelsea get beaten by someone not chasing the title a couple of hours later but was also a relief in that Chelsea didn’t pull further ahead.
Arsenal have had a couple of warnings and two punishments at home this season, telling them complacency will undermine any title aspirations.
Let us hope that the Wolves corner was the last one that needed turning because this season could quickly become spaghetti junction – again, apologies.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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