It's going to be a long hard season but....

By Avenell Dave

It's fair to say that all our performances this season apart from Udinese away have been indifferent.

As Arsene Wenger said, we have been blighted by the summer transfer window, the uncertainty, the consequential departures, the injuries and the red cards, not all of which could be predicted or protected against.

The M*nure drubbing is behind us, but it's clear that confidence lost last season has not been recovered and in fairness, it's going to take time.

New team-mates have to get used to each other, players need to get used to the rythmn of the game and slowly build upon each result.

I recall a few seasons ago when we'd had a good start to the season and ended up going to Bolton for a Saturday evening kick-off.

We were expected to find it tough but ended up destroying the opposition with the sort of football that most teams can only dream of.

The fact is, we always tended to start the season well and then fall away in November, rallying after Christmas and then collapsing as the FA Cup got to its later stages.

People forget we lost 6-1 at M*nure a few years ago and then won titles again soon after.

Things are of course a little different now because of the Oligarchs, Sheikhs and Americans throwing money at clubs - and the Financial Fair Play rules by Uefa are going to be crucial. We cannot rely on sugar daddies.

My point here is that while I would never wish for a start to the season like that we've had, it doesn't necessarily mean all hope is lost. 

M*nure and City look imperious and maybe they will run away with the title.

Bit just as likely is the possibility that the strength of a number of teams pegs them back, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to setbacks as well. 

Take Shrek out of the M*nure side and I'd like to see how well they compete.

The deficiencies in City's squad may be less apparent but they have never experienced the intensity of a title run-in and who knows how all the egos will cope when big players are left stewing on the bench?

I would rather we finished strongly (as in 1998) than shine now only to fall away again amind more accusations of being bottlers.

Back to Saturday's match and it's clear to see that there is work to be done.

Per Mertesacker did well but was caught out on a couple of occasions, relying on Szcz to save him and maintain parity.

Mikel Arteta did ok for a debut and looks promising but Aaron Ramsey needs a break, one he will surely get when Alex Song and Gervinho return.

I'm convinced that Theo Walcott will not make it as a wide player and should actually be the lead striker with RvP playing slightly deeper, as he is naturally inclined to do.

Theo was poor out wide, again, as was Andrey Arshavin, despite a superb finish that won us the game, fortuitously (how I long to say that every week).

Yossi benayoun looked busy but I continue to worry about our firepower if RvP gets a knock. A lot rests on how well Park adapts but that's a lot to ask and hopefully something taht will be addressed in January.

From the responses of many oN Twitter on Saturday, you'd have thought we had lost the game, and too many expected us to put a heavy defeat and the international break behind us and sweep Swansea aside.

Small steps may well become giant leaps, but we need to get back to basics before we start tearing teams apart again.

We have three points. Now on to Dortmund.