By Avenell Dave
For the third time in a week, Arsenal put me through the wringer.
Just as last week against T*tt*nh*m, we played some mesmerising stuff in the first half against Villa, but showed once again how vulnerable our defence is.
You can't fault our play going forward domestically - though much could be said about our lamentable creativity in Portugal last week - but it must be of concern to Arsene Wenger how readily we concede goals and how shaky we appear when we do concede.
I've said it before on here but both full-backs, and Gael Clichy in particular, seem to have no idea that their job is to stop crosses from coming in.
We always look like we'll concede whenever the opposition pushes forward and we can't always rely on scoring one or two more than the opposition.
As the Ch*vs showed us earlier in the season, we can play tippy-tappy all day but we have to be clinical at both ends of the pitch.
What we clearly lack is a leader.
Ask yourself this: when Villa scored their first, with the injured giant Carew standing right in front of Lukasz Fabianski, would Tony Adams have trotted back to the centre circle.
No, I can see him bellowing now, complaining about the decision to the referee and making sure that the whole team felt the anger and injustice of it and pushed on.
Every time a cross came in, our defence couldn't deal with it and I know Wenger will say that when Thomas Vermaelen is back we will be fine, but in honesty, fine player as he is, we still shipped way too many goals with him in the side last season.
Wenger has to use his scouting network to find us a Carlos Puyol, someone who knows about nothing other than leading and shouting, someone who drags the spirit lurking in every player into their every performance.
We can enjoy being near the top of the table but we still have less points than we did at the same stage last season - it's the indifferent form of the Ch*vs and M*nure that have left us in touch with them, not our outstanding performances.
But for a brief moment on Saturday, we were top of the table, and that must give the team confidence and the belief that we can drag ourselves out of this inconsistent first half of the campaign and really kick on.
In Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin (when he can be bothered) and Jack Wilshere, we have players who in Cesc Fabregas's absence can help us win games, but we need some steel throughout the side and Alex Song, for all his qualities, doesn't lead the team from midfield in a way a player in his position should.
The serious stuff this month is now out the way - and let's be honest, it could have gone better. The Carling Cup may have more focus this year than in previous seasons, but it is not a priority - even though we need to end the month on a high tomorrow night.
The title is there for the taking, Addicts - but how many of our team will put themselves totally on the line to make that dream a reality?