It was supposed to be their week.
2015/16 was supposed to be Arsenal’s season. The title was supposed to be The Emirates Stadium bound.
As it has turned out, however, Arsenal are far-far away from accomplishing what others surmised they would, thanks to their most preferable and the cherished melange of lacklustre/profligate attacking and rudderless defending.
If the shameful battering at the hands of a depleted Manchester United side was a damning indictment of the mental vulnerabilities within, the loss to Swansea City at The Emirates Stadium certified the lack of belief and confidence.
How often do we say that about Arsenal?
In the simplest terms, the ability to make a passeggiata look like a run in hell in the state of déshabillé (which is down to the lack of faith) is partly because of the lack of leaders in the side – those driving or guiding forces that any great side would crave for to win big trophies.
Since the departure of Patrick Vieira, Arsenal have failed to perform on the biggest of occasions and everyone knows why.
Petr Cech apart, nearly everyone has the tendency to comport more like ‘boys’ rather than ‘men’ in their decision making and toughness when subjected to extreme situations.
If Vieira and Keown-like characters were still present in the Arsenal dressing room, you wonder how much could Arsene Wenger’s side have achieved by now and how wide could the gulf of class have been between them and their direct rivals.
And it’s not just the players who are to be blamed; Arsene Wenger himself is responsible, if not entirely, to some extent for the mess Arsenal are in at the moment.
Not that he has lost the plot in terms of his Footballing nous, but the fact that he is overly reluctant to spend and finalise deals for world-class forwards despite Arsenal not being impecunious by any extent of imagination is increasingly becoming the cause of Arsenal’s repeated failures to win the Premier League.
How many times have they registered 25+ shots a game and still lost?
The Arsenal boss keeps lamenting the lack of world-class players in the transfer market and keeps shifting the blame with a clever kind of cleverness, but one doubts if the Frenchman has ever made a whole hearted effort to make a top player their own, particularly a forward who can get you 30+ goals a season without needing at least six clear-cut chances before he puts one in the back of the net.
It’s pretty easy to cajole a world-class star with the riches of Arsenal and of course, the privilege of being able to live in London. What kind of a player – unless and until he’s one of those loyal ones – thus, ignores a club of the stature of Arsenal is an interesting question. Mind, the term loyalty was long expurgated as a lexicon of modern Football.
All in all, Arsenal have no one – not the schedule, not the physical requirements of the English game, not money – but themselves and only themselves to blame for their shortcomings.
At a time when Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United are all struggling to be in contention for the league title, the Gunners have remarkably failed to do what they aspire to.
The league title should have almost been theirs by now considering how poor have most of their rivals been, but the fact that they are struggling even in a such a low-quality season despite having the best squad in the league in some description proves that Arsenal fear success itself more than anything.
They just can’t take the burden of expectations as is apparent from what we have often seen.
Arsenal have shot themselves in the foot again, their latest blow likely to be the most painful if they don’t put an end to their spree of underachievement.
With ten matches to go, their fate fortunately is still in their own hands, possibly for the one last time before mediocrity settles in once and for all for another decennium. It’s either now or never.