On the back of an FA Cup victory and a majority of the season sat at the top of the league, it was always gonna be hard for this Arsenal side to maintain such a hard level of form.
After suffering a number of first choice departures, it was all change at the Emirates over the Summer, with Wenger being more active than usual in the transfer market, spending nearly £100million on talent.
So far, it’s been a season yet to convince many of us, but it seems Arsenal are doing it the hard way this year. Fixtures haven’t been kind to the Gunners, with the hard run seeing them drop points to average sides in the Premier League.
I take a look back at just how our season has gone so far, and try to make sense of what’s happened so far, including the bits we don’t really want to relive!
At the beginning of the summer, the Gunners had lost their captain and first-choice right back in Bacary Sagna to transfer. Not forgetting their three German giants, following a successful time in Rio left them with a World Cup hangover.
It was an active summer for the Gunners, Wenger brought in the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck to solve the problems up top. Matthieu Debuchy and Callum Chambers completed a new look back four, but that still wasn’t enough it seems.
The dreaded injuries plague came back to haunt this squad, and it looks as if we won’t be seeing the likes of Giroud or Debuchy until early February, resulting in a Christmas without two of our first-choice players. The injury hit has meant Callum Chambers has had to step up and be counted, with little experience he has taken to the team very well, putting in solid performances where he has displayed his versatility in moving from right back to centre back mid-game.
Aaron Ramsey has struggled to maintain his sensational form from last year, being unable to get into the game as much, this being due to the inclusion of Alexis Sanchez, who has stolen the show on many occasions. However, in Ramsey’s dip, Jack Wilshere has come to life, putting in a number of man of the match performances and proving his critics wrong by cementing his position at centre defensive midfield.
With the departure of Thomas Vermaelen in the summer, it meant Arsenal gained a new vice-captain in Per Mertesacker, and he has not let himself down. The BFG has put in a string of consistent performances and now looks like a man who will finish his career at the Emirates. Taking responsibility for new faces has been a big task for the World Cup winner, but has been a big influence on Chambers and Bellerin.
On the down side, Lukas Podolski looks to be off in January, following a number of reports linking him with a move back to Germany. The winger has made just three substitute appearances this season, and made little impact in the time he’s been on the pitch. He didn’t feature in the squad this weekend against Hull due to ‘illness’, and seems the likes of Sanchez and Campbell are more likely to be long-term replacements for the German.
But it’s Danny Welbeck who is now proving to fit perfectly with this squad, and will provide much-needed competition for Olivier Giroud when he returns in January. The striker was one of six Arsenal players in the England squad last week, and continued his impressive run of form with an equaliser against Hull at the weekend. His pace has injected new life into the Arsenal attack, with the chance for Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere to feed the attack.
What we have learnt is that January can’t come soon enough, with the injury crisis at the back, Arsenal currently have a number of players out for a long period of time, and squad rotation will be pivotal in the coming months. Wenger has already told Arsenal Player that he will look to strengthen at the back in the start of the New Year, but admits he was never concerned at the beginning of the season.
Arsenal 2 – 1 Crystal Palace
Everton 2 -2 Arsenal
Leicester 1 – 1 Arsenal
Arsenal 2 – 2 Manchester City
Aston Villa 0 – 3 Arsenal
Arsenal 1 – 1 Tottenham
Chelsea 2 – 0 Arsenal
Arsenal 2 – 2 Hull City
A frustrating string of results has seen Arsenal sit with just 11 points after 8 games, sitting in an average 7th place currently. The Gunners failed to capitalise on a number of games where 3 points would’ve been easily taken. Leicester proved to be in the mood to annoy us, after they managed to hold onto a 1-1 draw, with star striker Ulloa providing the equaliser in a more than dull game.
On paper, big fixtures would look pretty good on paper, following draws with Everton, Manchester City and Tottenham. These were all winnable games, and it’s that last 20 minutes that have proved to be the most frustrating for the players, by constantly knocking on the door and getting no luck.
Fresh Arsenal recently took a look at why Arsenal will be heading into a good run of results, with a favourable set of fixtures helping the lads to capitalise on a the ten point gap between league leaders Chelsea.
Don’t get me wrong, I simply can’t see this being Arsenals year in the Premier League, a slow start has not impressed me and the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City are already looking to be running away with it. Unless Arsenal can pick up some momentum over Christmas, it’s going to be a difficult season to watch.
Borussia Dortmund 2 – 0 Arsenal
Arsenal 4 – 1 Galatassary
We’re currently sat pretty comfortably in the group stage, after suffering a 2-0 defeat to German giants, Borussia Dortmund, and a resounding 4-1 victory at home to Galatassary. So there’s a long way to go but the we’re finally off and running. Wenger has always reiterated that 10 points is what you need to get out of the group, and with two games against a weak Anderlecht side up next, there is a chance to grab six points, meaning a point against either Gala or Dortmund would see us through to the last 32.
Our performance against Dortmund is the worst we have played in a long time, with Wenger handing a Champions League debut to youngster, Hector Bellerin being one of the questions asked at the end of the game.
However, the Gunners replied with a sublime display against Turkish opponents, Galatassary. Danny Welbeck put in a man of the match performance, becoming the third ever Gunner to grab a hat-trick in the Europe’s biggest competition.
Concerns have been raised with squad rotation in the Champions League, and I think against Anderlecht we need to change our strategy. This can be a game in which we are the bullies again, and possession football is the best way to do that, I will be quite happy to see us go in 0-0 at half-time with a good atmosphere in the stadium, simply due to the way Anderlecht will reply. They haven’t had much experience playing in England so our fans are vital.
Capital One Cup:
Arsenal 1 – 2 Southampton
A competition in which Arsene Wenger delves in, it was a shame we were knocked out to so early. Arsenal came up against an in-form Southampton side, who like Arsenal, were keen to progress.
It wasn’t a surprise that our line-up looked a little different, with the boss looking to take advantage of the competition in putting the younger squad players to use. Wenger went with a mix of youth and experience, with Lukas Podolski being handed a start alongside the likes of Isaac Hayden, Francis Coquelin and the much awaited return of About Diaby.
But it was a game to forget for the new-look side, where a crafted free-kick just wasn’t enough to see off the Saints, eventually losing 2-1 in regular time.
The Cup exit will be the least of Wenger’s problems though, as he can now focus on a busy calendar where Champions League success is long-awaited since the final against Barcelona in 2006. And I think we all know what we’d rather watch in mid-week right?
Well what can you say, it’s been tough for us. The atmosphere in the Emirates this year has been tense, with the only thing to really shout about being the 4-1 victory over Galatassary back in September.
But it’s most recently that has concerned me the most about our fans. There was a stage in the opening minutes against Hull where you could hear a pin drop. In a game that marked the ending of the international break, you would surely expect our fans to be singing their hearts out, but there was no such thing this weekend.
It’s quite ironic really, the majority of fans got what they wanted, a striker, but as soon as results are going our way the finger is still pointed at Wenger. Why? The very least Arsene Wenger deserves is your support, after all you can’t go from marking his 18th year in charge by clapping him and then calling for his head the next week.
The overall impact of the fans is vitally important, not just because they run this club, but because they are our 12th man in this operation.
Fans weren’t helped last week when a survey was revealed by the BBC, showing that Arsenal are still hold the unpopular record for the most expensive season ticket, and average match-day ticket. All in all, the marquee signings of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck are being paid off by the fans you would presume, but with the Emirates being paid off now, it is hard to see why Arsenal have failed to drop their prices.
Now we are seeing more and more empty seats each week, with a rise in prices and a drop in quality being the main reason for the falling attendances. Fans that have managed to get tickets to the game are no longer the right fans in my opinion, it’s people out for a special day with business corporates.
Basically, our football club is losing touch with the people that make the game what it is. You may well be a die hard fan, but if you can’t cough up £50 then you don’t have the right to cheer on your team, what’s up with that?[socialpoll id=”2227645″]