One point against Sunderland is a lot better than no points against Sunderland, but a 1-1 draw was not the result Arsenal fans would have been looking for against the Black Cats, particularly given their slip-ups already this season. The result means that they will probably have slipped out of the European places by the conclusion of Sunday’s action.
Mathematically, of course, they can still win the title. We are only seven games into the season and there is a long way to go. But when you consider that Arsenal have lost two games (very nearly three) already this season and drawn one, it is difficult to see how they will be able to mount a title challenge.
Each time the Gunners bounce back from their latest disappointing result you think they have learnt their lesson, but on current form the next mini-disaster is never too far away. Defeat against Hull really should have been the kick up the Arsenal they needed. If it wasn’t for Cesc Fabregas header – surely the greatest indication that the kind of football you think you are playing is not working – Arsenal would have recorded another defeat yesterday. It was BBC commentator Jonathan Peace who quite rightly pointed out that the Gunners showed more urgency in the five minutes they were behind than in the other 80 minutes of the match put together. And therein lies Arsene Wenger’s problem.
His side know they are good. They know he is an astute manager who has collected some very technically gifted players and has a record of doing so. The current crop want to be Arsenal’s new Invincibles. The Invicibles were often frustrating – they could have probably scored double the amount of goals they did if they had not been so eager to walk the ball into the net and score the perfect team goal every time. They played with such a swagger and at such a tempo that opposition sides could not cope with them (and they also had Thierry Henry who would always pop up with a goal).
In trying to replicate this swagger, Arsenal’s current side have created an inherent lethargy. Why force a chance now when we have another 40 minutes to score a goal? The confidence is undermining the good work they do against so many sides. They are giving themselves far too much to do in the latter stages of the season with the constant slip-ups. Manchester United and Chelsea will not need asking a second time to open up a gap over the Gunners.
The only blessing for Wenger and Arsenal fans alike is that it looked like the penny might have dropped when Grant Leadbitter’s shot hit the back of the net yesterday.