At halftime of yesterday’s game I stood in the concourse of the North Bank blowing warm air on to my hands. I was cold, but what I’d seen in terms of the way Arsenal had approached the game and outplayed Liverpool had warmed my heart. Arteta had made a few changes to mix things up after the dreadful Fulham display, his team had reacted and were looking rather good.

“If only we could have taken one of the MANY chances we’ve had so far” I said to myself.

Oh how that is a familiar feeling about Arsenal right now. Because as we all know, what transpired in that second half was yet another sucker-punch ending, yet another missed opportunity, yet another defeat and yet another match day in which we go home scratching our heads about what is happening for The Arsenal in front of goal.

We have a serious finishing problem now guys.

At West Ham on 28th December people were suggesting that the result was one of those freak ones that happen every season. I think I even said post game that you get matches like that; my brother and I always called them ‘Championship Manager’ games, where the computer’s game engine has just decided that no matter how much better you are than the opponent, no matter how many shots you have, you aren’t winning this one. But whilst many were quick to suggest that game against the Hammers a fluke, there was a nagging thought building in the back of my mind and that was that we had been seeing this for large parts of the season and particularly in December, this had an air of familiarity about it.

Fast forward to right now and this now officially feels like a goal drought and a confidence issue within the forwards of this Arsenal team. I don’t believe that these players aren’t good enough. I don’t believe that last season’s goal tally was a ‘one off’ or a ‘one season wonder’. I think these players are very good, but right now their confidence looks shot to pieces. Nothing is going for them and that is manifesting itself with things like too many touches, wanting the ball to sit up perfectly before a shot, or just a plain ol’ miscue. For evidence of the ‘too many touches’ approach, see one particular Havertz shot in the first half when he controlled the ball when he could have first time shot, then took a touch, then a second touch, before shooting, by which time Konate had got in front of him and had managed to get a deflection which slowed down the shot for Allison to get down easily and save. For the ‘miscue’ example, see the second half where the ball came to Saka at the back post and all he had to do was hit the target and we would have scored, yet he shinned it high and in to the air.

Nothing is falling for these Arsenal players and I don’t think it is just bad luck. I think they are all thinking too much about it. Arteta was asked about it after the game (whether there was a psychological issue) and he said that it was a possibility. I have to admit that I even thought it (and said it) prior to this game; he was asked if the team had lost confidence in front of goal and whilst he said it was ‘momentum’ that had been lost instead of confidence, in that press conference there was enough of hesitation before he answered for me to play amateur psychologist and think “he thinks there IS a confidence problem, he just doesn’t want to say it out loud”.

Well he doesn’t have to now, because it is there for the whole world to see, so the next 10 – 12 days will be pivotal in how this season is going to finish for us. We’re out of the League Cup, we’re out of the FA Cup, there is no way we’re getting near the Champions League with the way we’re playing at the moment and it feels like an assault on the title is slowly disappearing too. Unless those forwards can find some sort of magic scoring elixir or potion, we are staring down the barrel of a top four challenge, rather than a league title one.

And it’s really disheartening too, because this team is doing so much right. We made Liverpool look average in the first half and in the second half they were better, they created chances, but we did too, so it was a bit more of an even game. But as every minute ticked on, you just knew there would be something that would go against us. Such is the luck right now, you just knew that we’d get sucker-punched, which was exactly what happened. Kiwior’s header was mistimed, Ramsdale flapped a little, the ball ended up in the back of the net. Standard. Liverpool had been somewhat dangerous up until that point, but it was more calamitous defending that cost us. Just like at Fulham for their winner, just like against West Ham with both of their goals, our defence was the master of it’s own downfall and suddenly, annoyingly, we can’t seem to defend set pieces.

It feels like we’re being given maximum punishment for any defensive lapses right now, because every team makes mistakes, but it seems to be us that is being constantly punished.

This is a competition that realistically we should have been thinking about as one that we have a good chance of winning in. I’ve already said above I don’t think we’ll get the Champions League and the Premier League title is the hardest to win of the lot, which we aren’t going to get close to in my opinion, because of our attacking issues. We don’t score enough goals and now we’re opening the back door so that our opponents can score with the one or two chances they get every game.

This was a really tough one to swallow yesterday, because there were plenty of positives to take, but the problem is that we can’t just look at this as an isolated game. It’s happening with an alarming frequency and unless something happens in the next 10 days that magically changes the mindset and the confidence of the team in front of goal, this season is going to fizzle out. Arteta said to stick behind these players, because they are really good and last season showed that they have something about them, but based on what we’ve seen for the vast bulk of this season so far you wonder if last season was just a ‘one off’. We haven’t really seen that side from last season at all and it annoys me when I read other fans or journalists suggest that. It hurts. But we have no evidence right now to suggest that suddenly this team will burst in to life.

The players need a reset, the manager needs a reset and heck, it feels like we as fans need a reset too. We all need some time away because what’s happening now is not fun in the slightest.

Catch you all tomorrow.

Oh and p.s. – I love the idea, I love the club doing it’s bit for an amazing cause, but that white kit can get in the bin.