Tonight's result is not, in itself, that damaging. But Vermaelen's injury could spell trouble. We had been lucky up to this point that neither he nor Gallas missed many games, but it seems that that is about to change at the worst possible time with games against big four rivals fast approaching.
You'd be confident of campbell doing ok for a few games- he was SOLid for another hour or so lastnight- but would an extended run in the team expose him? Maybe. And what about Gallas? Wenger's already said that he's been playing through pain, so does this mean we've got to go for another centre-back? Because a pairing of campbell-Silvestre is now a very real prospect, or, more accurately, DOOMSDAY ScENARIO.....
It makes a grim sort of sense that Vermaelen gets injured now because the imminent returns of Song, Eboue, Bendtner, Nasri had things looking too rosey on the injury front, didn't they? This is Arsenal after all. Eduardo picked up an injury aswell that will keep him out of, at least, the United game. So the strike options are looking bare once again. I say again, it really is taking the piss not signing a forward. It's genuinely got on my nerves. We're reduced to pretending that Bendtner's return should be a real reason for optimism. This is a fella who was jeered by his own fans a lot of last season. I personally don't mind him, he may have an ego that far outstrips his ability but he's a decent OPTION, but to be relying on him to lead the line now (or Vela, or Eduardo) is far from ideal.
Then again I've been saying that since Van Persie got injured and I'm sure those sentiments have been endlessly echoed elsewhere. The truth is that the Arsenal manager lives in a bubble, exempt from criticism. The club is indebted to him for recent successes on the pitch and financial well-being off it. Nobody in the club has the balls to take him on regarding his ineffective policies. He's not used to pressure of any sort because there's no tension there, no character big enough to take him on. He might hear jeers at the end of a poor performance but the fans are too grateful to take their grievances any further than that. He'd rather FAIL, HIS WAY, than bend to circumstance or pragmatism in order to succeed. He's out of touch, and as long as Arsenal are under his stewardship, we'll see the same cycle. He's selling you a future you'll never see, because the best players will move on to find success and money elsewhere, and you'll be left effectively with a team in endless transition.
AT LEAST, that's the way it feels on nights like this. And there might be more disappointment to come. Wenger's fond of talking up our unbeaten run last season (mostly goalless draws against rubbish teams). He's less likely to mention how that run ended with disastrous games against chelsea and United (twice each). And none of this season so far has done much to disprove the "flat track bully" tag. Let's say, seven points from the next three games would leave us in a brilliant position approaching the home stretch. But I just can't see it. It would be very demoralising for this season to take such a similar trajectory to the last but I would not be the least bit surprised. If that makes me less of a fan, so be it. I'll happily give a grovelling apology if we win on Sunday.
*optimistic footnote: Arsenal have not gone three consecutive games this season without winning.