On the face of it, if you consider that we are still just two points from the top of the league, life appears to be not that bad for us. But that is if you ignore some of the clear issues that appear to exist at the club right now. A 1-1 draw against Norwich is a poor result against another technically inferior team who just had to wait for the Arsenal self destruct to happen, rather than carve out anything spectacular to bring them level, after a deft finish from Özil.


It’s becoming quite farcical at the moment. We’re not just running on empty in terms of bodies, we’re practically on fumes and for every game we seem to play at the moment, we’re just losing player after player. Yesterday it was Koscienly, Alexis and Cazorla. Yes, we have the return of Ramsey and the Ox to thank for, but football shouldn’t be a ‘one in, one out’ thing. Some of the injuries have been in-game and based on contact; there’s nothing you can do about those. But some have just been poor management of players. Walcott not warming up at Wednesday, Rambo and his hammy against Bayern and Alexis yesterday. That one yesterday was always going to happen and yes, Arsène will have more access to more information than any of us, he might even have the player looking tip-top and telling him he’s fine, but sometimes you have to go with your gut and pretty much every Arsenal fan I’ve spoken to has said that Alexis should be given some time to recuperate at some stage. I know it leaves Arsène between a rock and a hard place, because he’d get lambasted if it backfired, but he’s paid all that money to make difficult decisions and sometimes he has to play the fool in order to see the bigger picture and keep players fit all season. It just doesn’t feel like he understands that sometimes, as an outsider, looking in.

Defensive shambles

Despite the injuries, you can’t say that a back four with Mertesacker and Gabriel at the heart of it, should be getting caught out in the most Sunday League ways as Gabriel did. Grabban’s goal was a travesty to watch. A simple pass to a man in the box who just turned his body and slotted home. At an Under-11 age you’d probably be forgiving a kid, but you’d also be teaching him about staying goal side and making life as difficult as possible for the striker. Gabriel should have had nightmares on the 14 minute plans trip home yesterday, because that was appalling. And it’s defending which is costing us the points at the moment. We can talk about the injuries to creative players, but having scored first in consecutive games, a side with title winning aspirations shouldn’t be conceding like we have over the last two weekends. The defending we’ve seen has been nothing to do with injuries I’m afraid.

Our easy run

The reason I’m so frustrated this morning is because these games in this pre-Christmas period were supposed to be where we stack up the points. It was supposed to be our ‘bankers’ so that if we have blips over Christmas or in January during our tough run-in, we have something to fall back on. So by buggering up this so-called ‘easy run’, we have no buffer for if/when we bugger up against City at home or Southampton away. 

We always feel ‘so close’

Every time it seems like we’re about to take advantage of a situation, we perform like we did yesterday, looking like we’re just not psychologically geared up to take advantage of situations. Perhaps I’m being somewhat hyperbolic, but it just feels like we don’t have the mental fortitude to grasp an opportunity when it’s presented to us.

Yesterday, despite the injuries and poor defending, we should have had more to us from an intensity perspective than we did. It looked like we were just going through the motions. It’s a good job that Norwich are such a poor side, because we’d have got nothing if it had been a side with even a little something more about themselves.

It just feels like – at the moment, anyway – we are a team that providing you put the effort in against, you’ll get something from a game.

Can we win the title?

Of course we can. We’re two points off the top and everyone appears to be fragile this season. But I don’t think we will. I think we’ll steady ourselves, we’ll probably beat Sunderland at home, maybe Villa away, then we go in to Christmas feeling alright about ourselves again. But then we’ll have another blip and it will all be too familiar. It may not happen at Christmas, but you and I both know it’ll happen eventually, which is why it will be worse when it happens later rather than sooner. Because Arsenal will make you believe it’s possible.

I hope I’m wrong. I love Arsenal and I want us to win the league. But games like yesterday just don’t make it feel possible.