Arsenal hadn't lost a game in the FA Cup for over three years before yesterday's game with Watford and it was inevitable that they would lose at some stage. At home to Watford was hardly the way they would like to have relinquished their hold on the trophy they have won for the last two seasons, but there is no ideal way. On the face of it the loss can be looked at on it's own and judged that way, but it was anything other than a one off in a season that continues to stumble from disaster to disaster.
The team has only won once in their last seven games and four times in their last 14. They have gone from a position at the top of the league table in early January to third and they will more than likely be 11 points behind Leicester after tonight's game. They will have a game in hand, but that counts for little with a team who don't look like winning any game they play at the moment.
We are down to the business end of the season when every result is crucial and Arsenal have their strategy all wrong. I still think Leicester could drop enough points to be caught at the top of the table, but I have no confidence in Arsenal being the team to catch them. Our biggest challenge between here and the end of the season could be out usual one to try to insure a top four finish.
Yesterday's game was just so typical of Arsenal at the moment with Watford scoring from their only two shots on target in the game. The defending from the long throw for the first goal was a joke, but they managed to surpass it for the second goal. How can a team expect to win games when they constantly hand the opposition goals. By contrast Watford defended as if their lives depended upon it and with every one of their 11 players when needed.
The substitutions smelled of desperation with Mohamed El Neny and Joel Campbell being sacrificed despite being far from the worst players out there on the day. Olivier Giroud had to go off and I don't really care if only Romelu Lukaku has more goals than him, he just isn't good enough in front of goal and lacks the pace needed for a team who claim to be challenging the very best. Bringing Theo Walcott on didn't help matters though as he's in a worse place than Giroud at the moment.
I'm not blaming either player on not being good enough though because they are the players Arsene Wenger decided were good enough when he chose not to invest in any outfield players last summer. There was a genuine belief among fans that the right additions last summer would have taken us to the next level, but it just didn't happen. To make matters worse Chelsea, United and City have all faltered to the point where the league was ours for the taking and we could have walked it with the right additions last summer.
There was even a chance to make up for last summer's errors in January, but the boss again decided he had sufficient attacking options. What's the point in having the best playmaker in the league when nobody can put away the chances he creates game after game. The real fear has to be that Mesut Ozil will have had enough mediocricy to last a life time and will look for a move in the summer. I can't see how a club which clearly lacks ambition can look to hold on to a player of his ability.
When Arsenal did eventually manage to make chances yesterday it was Ozil who set up Danny Welbeck to get a goal back before Welbeck somehow managed to put an open goal wide. I'm not going to knock Welbeck though because he showed more in those few minutes than Giroud had done in the first 70 and for virtually every game he has played in months. If I see him fall over complaining to the referee one more time I'll put my foot through my lovely new television.
For the manager to suggest afterwards that we deserved something from the game was papering over the cracks. The team he sent out yet again played with no commitment, vision, style and to be honest without a clue what they were doing. I dread to think what Barcelona could do to us if we play like that on Wednesday night and I can't see us playing any other way.
A few weeks ago I said the only reasonable explanation I could come up with was the manager had lost the dressing room and it looks more obvious with each game. He can't imagine the players are giving their all for him out there and if they're following his plans and tactics then he hasn't got the first idea how to motivate them or coach them for that matter. If he has lost the dressing room then there's no way back and it's just a matter of time even if those in power at the club have no desire for change.
After the trip to Barca on Wednesday night we go to Everton early on Saturday and at the moment that looks like it will be the game to put the final nail in our coffin. Who knows and it could change, but I certainly have no belief in that and the players clearly don't either. As always I hope I'm completely wrong and the whole lot of them can reach down and pull themselves out of this massive home they have dug for themselves, but I won't be holding my breath.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.