Arsenal: The recurring morning afters

I suspect we are in for many morning afters. It was Stoke this time. We are getting to the point where it is hard to say who showed up to play or who should have done what or what the next excuse will be. There is a giant feeling of unsettled in the squad.
Arsenal has already proven susceptible to open field shots and this time it was Rory Delap’s throw ins that were their undoing. What is inescapable is that teams are finding ways to beat us or being allowed back into the game.
The promoted teams are all teeing off on Arsenal and the Baggies are licking their lips at their chance. Next Saturday comes the Man Utd showdown which should have signaled the tough stretch of the season but the way we are performing this started at the very outset.
Maybe the Gunners did not quite recover from the Spurs shocker but it is Wenger’s responsibility to get them prepared. The midfield looks unsettled with Song, Diaby, and Denilson providing company to Cesc, the only quality player that we have. Wenger’s experimentation with Song is not paying off. Cesc is not getting the support he got from Flamini last season which is unfortunate on so many levels. Cesc is superb but Flamini’s unflagging commitment just behind and across him meant that he was free to deploy upfield. This season, Cesc is having to take care of the blind spots on his own. It has shown in his distracted performances. We still have enough possession to command attention but it all unravels at both ends of the field.
RVP’s sending off is a reflection of his season. He has problems remaining upright and stealing the ball from him has become easier than taking candy from a baby. It was a terrible way to react and he deserves his three game suspension. I also realize that Wenger does not have too many options up front at present but Bendtner should be a sub, not a starter. He seems to do enough to find opportunities in the box but he is not a finisher.
We also have a defense that allows opposing players too much room. I have seen Arsenal backing off when they should be attacking the ball which has allowed a number of open field goals against them. 12 goals conceded is not going to get you any title. Wenger’s signing of a Man Utd cast off as central back was a band aid. The central back pairing has been slipshod. Clichy has been error prone and Sagna has struggled with injuries.
Arsenal is playing in a very narrow bandwidth. They have way too many loose pieces and injuries right now to gel effectively. The squad is also rudderless lacking any meaningful captaincy. It is too early for a blanket statement but so far our new signings have not impressed like Sagna or even Eduardo did last season. Nasri has had limited opportunities under Wenger.
It is over. I hate to say it, it makes me sick to the stomach to say it, but I don’t see Wenger’s way out from this season. If it were a temporary loss of confidence because of a few uncharacteristic performances, I would still be optimistic. We have a crisis of confidence because of deep personnel issues. I agree with Arseblog, Wenger has to think beyond his vanity project. It would be flattering to have a headline like “Wenger’s boys clobber giants on their way to the title” but we have to look beyond the wonderment at their talent and see the downside in their inconsistency. It is no knock on them, that is the way we are at that age. More experienced players leaven that inconsistency and provide an exemplar. We need some proven players and if you have to splash the cash and get into a bidding war with some of the fancier clubs, so be it. Arsenal has to prove that they are hungry enough to win another title.

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