Something's been bothering me about my team lately, and the other day, it hit me: we've become Spurs.
Seriously, think about it for a second. All those things we liked to think separated us from them- trophies, professionalism, efficiency- all those distinctions have more or less disappeared. Now they're just two "attractive sides", both flakey as can be. I guess some would say champions league football is the remaining difference, but anyone who's gonna say that is not now under threat after the last two games needs to take off those rose-tinted glasses and get themselves down to Specsavers.
Alan Hansen is not a man I often find myself agreeing with, but I nodded my head watching MOTD when he stated that he'd never seen a team so susceptible to conceding while dominating a game. Similar points have been made elsewhere. United and chelsea, these are teams who win while playing badly. Arsenal often lose while playing well.
I stated my reservations after the Everton win and it gives me no satisfaction to say I think I've been proven right: this team lacks character. It's perhaps the single most difficult problem to remedy in a team. We've seen outlined already some decent tactical changes made to the side, that had appeared to lead to improvement. But every time the stakes are raised, these guys seem to shrink in stature. Perhaps it is as Myles Palmer often suggests, that these players have been overly-pampered by Wenger. Perhaps it is that they simply need to win something, anything, to start to build that character. I'm not optimistic. This is a team that Wenger has been building for some time- albeit having lost some crucial players at times- and a side that Mark Fucking Hughes has had together for all of a few weeks gave them the runaround.
There are players in the Arsenal team who have stalled worryingly in their development. That is a potentially fatal factor in the progress or otherwise of this football club. If Wenger can not, for another few years at least, spend money, then we are relying completely on his semi-mythic talent for nurturing players. If that has deserted him, we really are in trouble.
Gael clichy is certainly Exhibit A. I distinctly remember a game in his breakthrough season, 03/04, when celta Vigo's right winger at the time gave him an almighty roasting. It was one of those things where you just thought, that's fine, he'll iron out those defensive deficiencies in time. But you know what? It still looks like, and on a fairly regular basis, that same clichy is making the same elementary errors. Allied to this, there's his inability to provide any kind of service when he gets forward- much like Sagna. I don't know is it that they haven't got a target, because in 07/08, when Adebayor was on fire, I seem to remember them both providing some good crosses. Whatever, the bottom line is, those two look to have stoppede dead in their progress.
Then again, there's worse further up the pitch. I always thought Denilson was a nice, tidy footballer, but that seems to be where it ends. Fabregas was stifled by De Jong on Saturday, so the Brazilian simply HAD TO shoulder some creative responsibility- he failed again to do this. And if he hasn't got that in his locker, it's hard to see where his real strengths lie. Rosicky appeared for ther first time in a year and a half and straight way looked what he is- ten times the player Denilson is, Bendtner is, Diaby is... The latter two are out of place as the flanking strikers in a 4-3-3, so maybe it's a bit harsh to be judging them, but in Diaby's case, a man that lazy can't really have any position. He looks unwilling to ever accept any defensive responsibility, and that next to his pisspoor passing makes an absolute mockery of those Vieira comparisons that we often hear, and are encouraged by Wenger. What Wenger needs to do is give this guy a swift kick up the ass but I guess that's just not his style. But look at it this way- Arshavin is embarrassingly superior in ability to Diaby and when he plays the same position, he puts in a fucking shift. If one is the best players in the world has the humility and professionalism to chase back, you've got to question the attitude of a joker like Diaby. In summation, he can fuck right off. I mean that. I'd be happy to never see him play for Arsenal again. Give Wilshere a chance, for fuck's sake.
Also consigned to the bad books, probably forever, is a goalkeeper we have been saddled with by yet more lack of foresight from Wenger. A goalkeeper who just doesn't make saves, and throws in the odd clanger to boot. He has never, not once, had a sustained run of form in an Arsenal shirt, and it's an insult to the fans that we have to settle for this while Shay Given makes stop after stop for our direct rivals for 4th, and a fair few teams have TWO better keepers in their squad.
I'm finding it hard to be optimistic at the moment. It's been pointed out that we have a handy looking run of fixtures now. I don't think we can view any fixture as particularly handy now that our weaknesses have again been ruthlessly exposed- and by a city side who were missing Robinho and Tevez. Our squad is continually ravaged which means our reliance on shitbags like Diaby will continue. If we had the full squad available, it'd almost look formidable. If my aunt had bollocks she'd be my uncle. Expect more struggles.
I consciously ignore the Adebayor fuss because it would detract from the more worrying problems with the team. But just one footnote- he might not look so clever at the end of the season if his impending suspension derails city's charge. That I am forced to clutch already at such petty straws points to the continued decline in the power of Arsenal.