Arsenal's season took another turn for the worse on Saturday afternoon as they scraped a point in what should have been a relatively easy game against Hull City.
When Alexis Sanchez fired in the opener in the 13th minute, Arsenal fans would have been forgiven for assuming the points were in the bag. The Gunners had run Steve Bruce's men ragged and Arsenal's incredible attack looked in the mood to fill their boots.
However, it didn't work out that way. Hull City grabbed a disputed equaliser through Mohamed Diame four minutes later before Abel Hernandez put them 2-1 ahead. Arsenal eventually equalised in injury time, but with Chelsea winning at Crystal Palace a draw was as good as a defeat. One point was not enough and they now lie 11 points behind the Blues.
So what went wrong?
Arsenal seemed to be cruising. Their attack consisting of Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck contains so much technical ability and raw pace that it seemed impossible for Hull to keep a clean sheet.
The goals were always going to come, but Arsenal needed to make sure their own net was guarded. Defence is obviously where the they fell short.
While it easy to point to Arsenal's inability to sign a back-up defender in January, subsequently exposing an injury crisis that resulted in Nacho Monreal playing at centre-back. There is no findable record for the shortest footballer to play at central defence in the Premier League but at 5ft 10 inches, Monreal would certainly be up (or down) there.
Surprisingly, the main problem didn't stem from the inexperienced, inadequate Monreal but from World Cup winner Per Mertesacker. It was he, at 6 ft 6 inches, who failed to clear Tom Huddlestone's cross in the 46th minute, instead getting tangled in his excessively long legs and reemerging just in time to see the ball fly past Wojciech Szczesny.
It served as another reminder that Mertesacker is not good enough to be in a squad challenging for the Premier League. He is certainly good enough to be an Arsenal player, but there must be questions as to whether he is good enough to be Arsene Wenger's first choice central defender.
Time for an upgrade
Wenger has claimed that he struggled to find a player that was good enough to play for Arsenal, but happy to be a fourth choice central defender. He wanted Calum Chambers in at number three, and Laurent Koscielny would continue his partnership with Mertesacker.
But why was there not a consideration to find someone capable of replacing Mertesacker? He is 30-years-old after all, which only a short time ago, would have been old enough to stop Wenger offering him any more than a one-year contract. Instead Wenger handed him a bumper £90,000-a-week to take him to his 33rd birthday.
It won't be long before he gets even slower and will be paced out of Premier League games. He has excellent leadership skills and never seems to try any less than his best, but whether his best is good enough anymore is a question that needs answering in January.
Arsenal should be looking for a long-term replacement soon and there is no time like the present. The Mail reported that Mats Hummels has emerged as Wenger's top transfer target for the January transfer window.
The suggestion that Wenger would blow £32 million halfway through the season is fantastical to those who know the Arsenal man even slightly. He bemoans the January transfer window and frequently refuses to take part.
However, if Manchester United move for Hummels, as they are expected to do, Wenger needs to act. The German international has plenty of experience, and, as captain of Borussia Dortmund, is obviously a born leader.
He has pace, height and strength. The only turnoff for Wenger will be Jurgen Klopp's £32 million asking price.
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