It hasn't been the best season so far with only seven wins in those 18 games and the performances haven't been up to scratch either. Since the very start of the season Arsenal have struggled to overcome opponents and impose themselves upon games. They have been very vulnerable at the back and look likely to concede at almost any time in any game.
It all started off pretty well last summer with the arrivals of Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchey and Calum Chambers and it looked like Arsenal we're going to bring in the players they needed to build on their FA Cup victory of last season. As the summer progressed and players left or were allowed to leave it became increasingly obvious that Arsenal needed to strengthen at the back and in the defensive part of their midfield too. On transfer deadline day those players did not arrive and the squad faced into the season without enough class or cover in those positions. It was a failure to prepare correctly and the price is being paid for that failure at the moment.
It seems Arsenal are going out game after game and making the same mistakes and it's hard to believe they are putting in the work needed on the training ground. I have no doubt the players are working hard but I find it difficult to believe they are working on the tactics needed to make the team a better defensive unit with and without the ball. If the coaching staff aren't drilling the players in what they should be doing then that's most certainly a failure to do their homework correctly.
The Arsenal team is full of quality players who play for their countries though and each one of them must surely know what is expected of them when they play for club or country. The simple mistakes which occur time again are hard to fathom from players of their ability and it's hard to believe it's anything other than a lack of application and concentration at times.
There are still so called experts who bellieve Arsenal should not have signed Alexis and should have saved their money for defensive signings. The club made plenty of money from the sale of players though as well as the knock on deals from Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Vela and there had to be enough money there to bring those players in too. It's hard to imagine where the team would be right now without Alexis as he has been truly magnificent for Arsenal. He is the best player in the Premier League at the moment and his application should be an example to every other Arsenal player.
There's still an awful lot to play for this season for Arsenal though and there's still the possibility of a trophy too. That trophy isn't going to come in the league unless Arsenal turn their form around immediately and go on a run to close the 12 point advantage Chelsea have over them after only 11 games. A top four place is still well within their grasp though, but surely that can't be the height of their ambitions yet again.
It still looks more than likely that they will progress from their Champions League group but it will be in second place which will of course mean a tougher draw in the last 16. Even with a good draw the team as it is surely can't progress past the quarter finals unless there is a huge change in how they play and some serious investment in January. There's plenty of money to be made from the Champions League, but I just can't see Arsenal being good enough to lift the trophy next May.
That would leave the FA Cup as the only route to silverware and it's a little worrying to admit that two months before Arsenal enter the competition at the third round stage. It would be great to see Arsenal retain the trophy they won last May, but it's hard to take that as their only route to success so early in the season. In truth though it was their only route once the transfer window closed and the squad didn't have the strength and balance needed to challenge with the best.
Of course there are plenty of players who can make a real difference to return from injury, but surely that has been the norm for too many seasons now. When Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Debuchy return it's hard to believe they won't be replaced by others in the treatment room. There's still the January transfer window to come too and just maybe the squad will get the strength it needs nice and early in that window. I won't be holding my breath though and the chances are any signings made will be just before the window closes.
Overall it's been a very disappointing season so far with all of the old failings raising their ugly heads again for a host of reasons. A failure to prepare properly, do their homework properly and apply themselves properly has led to a very disappointing mid term report for the team. With the exception of star player Alexis that report has to read "can do better" for the entire squad up to this point. Hopefully when they come back from the international break the players can raise their game and get the team on track to a much better season.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.