We can do away with Martin Atkinson turning a blind eye to Fabianski's mugging, Van Persie's penalty call after being fouled by Salgado in the box, and a few red cards thrown in for good measure. When teams play Blackburn, this is about a standard deviation from the normal. Not an outlier.
So what are we hearing?
Naturally, Lukasz Fabianski is a huge topic.
Arseblog makes it very clear:
"I don't think he's anywhere near good enough or strong enough to be a top level keeper."
This was Fabianski's test to prove himself and to his credit he succeeded making some important saves but in the end, Blackburn were sharks going after a goalie with very little self confidence. In the end Fabianski could do little.
Goonerholic rips Fabianski's performance:
" Fabianski has the consistency of a Tesco value jelly, and surely Mannone must be given a chance to produce a second heroic performance against Fulham this season, next Sunday?"
He has a point. At this point Vito Mannone cannot do worse.
Gunnerblog brings up the nightmare of a Fabianski future:
"Two years of Fabianski mistakes would be too costly for us."
He makes an important observation. With the Arsenal defense so engaged in protecting a vulnerable goalkeeper, they overlooked their most basic defensive duties allowing Dunn to score. It is not just Fabianski making mistakes, it is the shifting of defensive resources towards him that will cost us equally.
It is left to A Cultured Left Foot to inject moderation:
"That does not mean I think he is ready to take over as Number One next season; I do not but the potential is there."
ACLF is more willing to apportion the blame on a multitude of factors: Martin Atkinson's laissez faire refereeing, the slack jawed defending of David Dunn's goal.
But it was not just Fabianski hogging Arsenal blog space. The infuriating lack of team effort and and a sense of pride is a theme they all touched on:
" They don't have enough pride in the Arsenal shirt. They're not willing to stand up for themselves or each other. They allow themselves to be bullied and not enough of them fight back."
" For the second trip to the north-west running, those who have spent an absolute fortune following the side this season were treated to watching a team that seems to be devoid of pride or commitment."
" What was most frustrating about yesterday's game was that the players really didn't seem to care."
A Cultured Left Foot:
"The question of attitude is altogether different. There was a drive that was missing yesterday from the performance."
The verdict is not very rosy. Unless drastic action is taken.
" I thought this summer required a little bit of tinkering, perhaps some keyhole surgery of the squad. After the last month it's more than that, open heart surgery required I think, provided he can find what's left of it. "
" It's time for a rest. It's time for a summer of reinforcing and strengthening. It's time to ship out the uncommitted and the downright incompetent."
" That was our ninth league defeat. It's only two fewer than Liverpool, who've spent the season being rightly and roundly mocked."
It is left to A Cultured Left Foot to give a bit of a rosy tint.
"The danger is that the improvements seen this season are being diminished and lost in the rancour over recent performances."
Lukasz Fabianski shows talent as a shot stopper. But if all it took was quick reflexes then many more would be considered great goalkeepers. The true hallmark is situations when cognition and leadership at the back is required. As a goalkeeper on the line during set pieces, you direct traffic away to create space to deal with the ball effectively.
This is important when so many players jockey for position. An assertive goalkeeper knows how to claim territory, and in doing so frees up defenders to tie up potential loose ends. Fabianski may learn all the tricks of the trade in due course but is Arsenal ready to pay the price for such a learning curve?
As a coach, Wenger seems to be more actively invested than many of his peers about the long term financial viability of their club. And over the years, debt has been significantly reduced. In no small part because of Wenger's carefully calibrated transfer requirements. It has left us in much better shape than our rivals. But in preserving the Arsenal brand, one suspects less attention has been paid to coaching details and match preparation.
Here is Arshavin after the Blackburn match:
" As for the game, we made a good start and managed to score a quick goal. But it was not enough ... Arsene told us, that our rival knew how to score from set pieces, which Blackburn showed us twice."
It maybe a flippant remark from a famously free spirit but if this is true a last minute observation about your opponents strengths, serving as preparation does not bode well. Arshavin and the rest by now should have received a week's worth of drilling on what Blackburn was capable of. Maybe there is a reason Arsenal looks unprepared. Or unmotivated.
Wenger also does not get enough scrutiny for his transfers. Rafa Benitez is regularly pummeled for his crop of players who have turned out laughable busts but Wenger has shown less impeccable instincts about recent player transfers. The goalkeeping quandary is now two seasons long and would not have occurred if Wenger had found an adequate replacement for Lehmann.
So here we are recycling Almunia, Fabianski, and Mannone on the last match of the season. Mikael Silvestre, Carlos Vela, Armando Traore, Denilson, and Abou Diaby are some others. Still others have lost their edge through injury and Eduardo and Rosicky can be counted in that category. Walcott provides a frustrating example. Not quite a success but not quite ready to be written off. Bendtner has scored some clutch goals but one would be touched in the head if he were to be described as a clinical striker.
Those are 4 to 5 players with substantial starting minutes we are talking about. That is not a good sign. Milan gets derided for being a club that harbours every player born the previous generation but Arsenal might be establishing a reputation for having trouble letting go of the injured, incompetent, and the unmotivated.