Sunday, 4 March 2018

Arsenal’s Trip To Brighton Previewed

It’s not an easy job to write about Arsenal at the moment and trying to find anything positive to write is virtually impossible. The first half of our season was far from good, but since the turn of the year we have gone into virtual free fall. Our chances of a top four finish are all but gone, we’re out of The FA Cup and we were an embarrassment in the Carabao Cup Final against City last week.

It didn’t get too much better on Thursday night when City came to the Emirates and beat us 3-0 in the league. It was just too easy for them against a team with no passion, commitment or sense of direction. City did to us what we used do to other teams when Arsene Wenger was the best coach in the league and we had the best team.

That was a long time ago though and our decline has been gradual over more than 10 years now. During that time we always managed to qualify for the Champions League until last season even though we came very close to missing out a few times. Even last season we only just missed out on the top four, but this season is a completely different story.

You would be hard pushed to find an Arsenal fan who thinks we have a chance of making the top four and there are still 10 games to go. There are those who point to the demise of United post Alex Ferguson and say we could go down the same path, but surely we are there already before Wenger has even left. There is still a route to the Champions League through the Europa League, but again you would be hard pushed to find a fan who thinks we have a hope in that competition.

With reports emerging of a supposed players meeting where they said they can’t rely on the coaches to turn things around it feels like we have reached a new low. Whether those reports are true or not I find them totally believable and that says an awful lot about those in charge and my trust in their ability to turn things around. If those reports are true then the dressing is lost and it’s just a matter of when and not if the manager goes.

Life must go on though and those highly paid players still have to go out and represent Arsenal at Brighton today and in Milan on Thursday night. There’s talk of resting players today, but that’s ridiculous as we need some sort of result to try to end a run of three defeats in a row. That run started at home To Ostersund on Thursday of last week and we need it to have finished this Thursday at home to City.

Brighton will be no pushover today and like so many other teams they will fancy their chances against us on their own ground in particular. Our away record this season is deplorable and we only get worse with each passing game. Three wins in 14 away games is simply not good enough and it’s probably all we deserved in those games.

We led at Watford, Bournemouth and Swansea and lost all three games and there isn’t a single team in the Premier League we can be confident of going to and winning. We make it far too easy to play against us away from home by giving the ball away too easily and continually making basic errors. There was a time when Arsenal could play through the press, but any team can force us into continual errors by pressing us on the ball.

Brighton had struggled for goals at home until recently, but they have turned that around in recent weeks and look like they will manage to stay in the Premier League. They will fancy their chances today and three points against us would leave them in s very secure position. We need our big players to turn up and influence the game today, but it’s something they seem incapable of game after game away from home.

I have virtually no confidence in our ability to keep a clean sheet on the road so we’re going to have to score at least two goals today if we’re going to win. With Burnley winning their first game in 12 yesterday they are suddenly only five points behind us and any sort of revival by them would put our current sixth place under threat. As unpalatable as finishing sixth is the thoughts of dropping out of the top six would be an even bigger step in the wrong direction. It’s not something I can see happening though and I think the teams behind us haven’t shown anything to say they can put together a sustained run to catch us.

If our players can show up today we can of course win and it would be great if we can create the chances Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thrives on. Mesut Ozil is the player most capable of making those chances, but we need to have proper possession in the right places to let Ozil influence the game. In a team bereft of leaders we need players to take the lead and it worries me that I don’t think we have anyone who will do it.

I have no faith in the manager’s ability to motivate the players anymore and his utter resignation to what happened agsinst City showed he has no idea how to change things in game. If we don’t start off on the right foot I fear it will all go wrong and it’s not even a case of who scores first as we are so vulnerable after we have scored. I may have a complete lack of confidence in the players ability to get a result far too often, but I still have some hope that they will get it as every fan has to have.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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