Arsenal get déjà vu all over again

By Avenell Dave

Well, we've all known it's been coming.

Last week against Birmingham, too many players switched off when we went 2-0 up against Birmingham and only a great Vito Mannone save prevented the struggling visitors from drawing level.

We got the result we wanted in the end and everyone was happy, but the cracks were there for all to see.

It was the same against AZ Alkmaar - our superiority was without question but we didn't have the experience, professionalism or sheer determination to kill the game off.

At 2-0 against West Ham yesterday, the game should have been over.

Had Cesc Fabregas's shot in the second half spun inwards rather than outwards, it would have ended the game and we would be sitting here this morning feeling very different.

But the signs of complacency were there from early in the first half when Manu Eboue and others started trying out tricks that at that stage of the game, they had no right to make.

Some have blamed Mannone for spilling the ball into the path of Carlton Cole, but that free kick could have gone anywhere and making 'textbook' saves isn't always as straightforward as it looks.

In my opinion, there are two factors at work here.

Firstly, the team almost selects itself at the moment.

Wenger may mix up the full-backs when he thinks he can get away with it but the midfield and forward line has been fairly static for a while.

That has two implciations.

Firstly, it means that players become complacent about their place in the team and it shows in some performances. Andrey Arshavin, for instance, mercurial as we know he can be, has been below the levels we have come to expect from him in recent weeks - and he was almost anonymous for large spells yesterday.

Secondly, it means that players get tired.

Alex Song has been excellent for us this season, but he has no competition or back-up in the defensive midfield role.

He too looked a little off form and perhaps his tackle on Cole which resulted in the penalty, soft decision as it was, was the action of a tired player as much as anything else.

I could add that with players like Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri at his disposal yesterday, Wenger could have been a bit braver either from the start or earlier in the second half by bringing on some fresh legs.

Say what you like about Ramsey, but he brings some urgency to the team when some players are flagging.

As for Abou Diaby and Manu Eboue - well, the less said about their decision-making, the better.

If we can get Nasri fit, welcome back Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo as regulars, the likes of Diaby and Eboue won't get a look in - and we will certainly brush teams aside with more aplomb.

But we didn't lose, we remain in the top four and some of the senior players have almost a week off now.

A good result for the reserves, fringe and recovering players against Liverpool is what's needed now to set us up for Saturday, and the chance to show T*tt*nh*m just who rules in North London.