It's a pretty bleak picture I paint and they're now eight points off the summit in the league with the fifth place team only five points behind Arsenal. If Arsenal can catch the leaders then United can catch Arsenal and they could find themselves embroiled in their annual race for fourth place rather than chasing their first league title in 12 years. As bad as United have been this season they're only five points behind Arsenal and slag Spurs as we may they are ahead of us and playing an awful lot better at the moment.
Of course all teams go through bad patches and Arsenal are just as likely to go on a good run as they are to continue in their current vein. They're not the only team who have underperformed at some stage this season and they won't be the last. It's coming to the stage where any more of the same will put an end to their title aspirations though and they have to turn a corner now.
After Leicester won away to City yesterday they opened an eight point gap over Arsenal with Arsenal playing their game in hand today. If they beat Bournemouth today the gap will be five points again and Leicester come to Arsenal next week while City play Spurs. The opportunity for Arsenal to move into second place and close the gap is there and they just have to take it.
Part of the problem for me is the poor quality of their finishing. I know Fraser Forester was the man of the match in goal for Southampton on Tuesday night, but I didn't think he had to make outstanding saves at any point. He might have made loads of saves, but you would have expected him to have probably saved all of Arsenal's efforts.
Sometimes it looks like Arsenal players are just content to get their effort on target and add it to the "shots on target" statistics for the game. The experts will say you have to get your shot on target or you cannot score, but you also have to do everything to insure your effort evades the goalkeeper. Arsenal have been goal shy in recent weeks and their return of goals scored so far in the league has not been good enough.
For me they still don't have the world class finisher with pace and trickery who wins points all on his own. I don't doubt that Arsene Wenger would like to add such a player to the squad, but they're not easy to find. If he's going to utilise the best playmaker in the game in Mesut Ozil to his full potential he has to do just that. The money is there and he needs to find that striker this summer.
For the moment though we have to make do with what we have and those players are still good enough to win the league this season. There's 14 games left starting today at Bournemouth and Arsenal have to target as many wins as possible from those games. They include tough trips to United, Spurs, City and West Ham, but this team has to ability to beat any team.
That ability needs to come to the fore at once and they need to start punishing the opposition as often as possible. There have been too few games where Arsenal have finished the opposition off early enough to cruise to a comfortable victory. They need to start putting plenty of goals past the weaker teams in particular to show they have something to offer in the title fight.
I'm not saying a trip to Bournemouth is an easy game because Bournemouth have been a breath of fresh air since their promotion. They have tried to play football against every team at home and away and I sincerely hope they stay up. They have taken some notable scalps along the way and Arsenal cannot let themselves get added to that list.
The game gives us a chance to see first hand how Benik Afobe has progressed since failing to make the grade at Arsenal. He joined Bournemouth only a few weeks ago, but he already has three Premier League goals in four appearances and those goals came in the last three games where Arsenal failed to score. There aren't too many players who have failed to make the grade at Arsenal in Wenger's reign who have come back to haunt us and gone on to make the grade, but Afobe certainly looks like he could do just that.
The players must realise that they have the opportunity to get right back in there and they quite simply have to take it. They need to be going into next week's game with Leicester with a chance of closing the gap at the top to two points and see how Leicester cope with the pressure. Despite their current rut Arsenal have not yet done enough damage to their title ambitions to be written off and now it's time to live up to the expectations.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.