While recent games have seen Arsenal scrape results where we just about deserved them, last night’s draw against an on-form Everton underlined our attacking impotency.
I can’t remember Tim Howard being particularly tested throughout the game until Robin van Persie’s late late leveller and time will tell how important the point will be for us.
Van Persie has had a hand in every goal Arsenal have scored in January – some feat and underlining just how important he is for the team.
The Dynamic Dutchman apart, we are suffering and as I’ve said before on Addict, the team feels more and more like the last days of George Graham’s reign than the Gospel of beautiful football Arsène Wenger preaches and demands.
Whether it’s to fellow Gooners who plead for us to spend big, or rival fans who revel in our downfall, my argument is always the same: take players of the calibre of Cesc Fabregas, Eduardo, Tomas Rosicknote and Theo Walcott (whose pace is something we REALLY miss) out of any side and it will suffer.
Samir Nasri is our only really effective attack-minded midfielder, but he is still adjusting to the English game. He may take sideways options more than forward passes, he may hold the ball rather than move forward with conviction, but I suspect that he will grow when the team gets its fluency back.
Or is that IF?
As far as our failings are costing us at present, I could point the finger at Manu Adebayor, who I hope is just going through one of those troughs that strikers sometimes endure. He’s certainly a pale imitation of the forward we watched and chanted for last season.
I could point the finger at Manuel Almunia, who proceeded to play long ball after long ball despite Adebayor rarely winning a header and simply gifting possession back to the home side more often than not.
As for why our performance last night was so turgid, well, I could point the finger at Alex Song or Abou Diaby for their complete inability to show any urgency or drive. Or pride. Or talent.
Diaby gets a little credit for the pass that set up van Persie’s equaliser but his impact is so minimal and his improvement so limited that I doubt his future at the club.
I could point the finger at Bacary Sagna, who, just like Gael Clichy against Hull, allowed his opponent all the time in the world to get the in cross that Tim Cahill headed in. But everyone makes mistakes.
I could point the finger at any number of other players, who made the game seem like such torture for us.
But for me, the buck stops with Arsène Wenger.
His determination to blend youth with experience has not been successful this season – we need one or two wise older heads to guide and lead by example.
I’m neither a member of the Arsène Knows Brigade nor would I wish anyone else to manage our club right now.
But the whole team has lacked passing fluency for some time now and while the absence of key players is significant mitigation – as is our unbeaten run which keeps us in with a fighting chance of fourth place.
Having a fighting spirit is something we have lacked, and last night’s late leveller may have something to do with that trait improving in the squad.
But against a side who started with no established striker, we should get back to the Gospel according to Saint Arsène and start teaching opposition a thing or two about how to play the game.
Roll on West Ham!