By Avenell Dave
I met a M*nure fan last week who said, quite pertinently, that the Premier League is getting weaker. He has a point.
Citeh may have a stellar squad but are weaker than the sum of their parts; the Ch*vs are not impressive and lack the aura they had under Mourinho; and the current M*nure team would get destroyed by their 1999 or 2008 incarnations.
The sad fact is that we’re behind all these teams.
Liverpool seem to be getting into gear and even T*tt*nh*m took the game to M*nure yesterday and looked far better than us, despite our crushing of them earlier in the season.
One can only wonder how Arsenal at their peak would fare but I suspect we would walk away with the title.
The teams of 2005 and 2006 were so much stronger than any team currently playing in England and yet as standards have fallen, so have ours.
We have had some great players since 2005 – Cesc Fabregas came of age; Robin van Persie finally showed the talent his potential always threatened to deliver; and yet we find ourselves now wondering for the first time if we have what it takes to reach the top four, let alone compete for the title.
I have to admit I was shocked at how badly Arsenal played in the first half yesterday.
We’ve had plenty of games in the past where we haven’t looked up for it but the fact is that everything that has been wrong with the team over the last four years or so could be exemplified by that awful performance.
Even with more ‘stars’ including Cesc and van Persie, Nasri, Song and others, we were accused of having a brittle backbone and it seems to be getting worse.
While we did well in my opinion on Wednesday, we’re starting games too slowly and it’s up to Arsene Wenger to find out why and sort it out.
We should come out of the blocks fast, suffocate teams and exhaust them with slick passing and yet we look like children playing against wise masters, particularly in the big games against so-called rivals who probably no longer see us as such.
There was a time when we would always turn up for the big games –even if we didn’t win them all – and it was games against the lesser teams that tended to be our undoing.
Now the rot seems entrenched and for the first time in a long time, my hopes of finishing in the top four are waning.
Yes, we should have had a foul for the Ramires tackle on Coquelin and the Brazilian’s dive that earned the Ch*vs a penalty was also lame, but the truth is, we deserved to be behind.
Bacary Sagna has had one good game in ten and what Carl Jenkinson needs to do to get back in the side is anyone’s guess.
Hardly anyone was chasing and harrying their opponent, Theo Walcott was sauntering around as he tends to do.
If Thierry Henry is still training with the club, I sincerely hope he takes the youngster aside and reminds him that talent is nothing without hard work.
Olivier Giroud received plenty of abuse for not scoring in the first minute but I recall even the best strikers miss what was not a simple chance – including van Persie.
Even when Szczesny went walkabout, Demba Ba took an age to shoot at an open goal, allowing Thomas Vermaelen to clear. Yes he could add something to our squad, but strikers miss chances. Whoever they are.
Can we reach the top four or do we need reinforcements?
We all know the answer to that.
We need two or three signings that will buoy the fans, put players on their toes and make them work harder for their places and allow more rotation.
Sign the right players and the top four is still there for us but with every dropped point now, it becomes more unlikely that we will do so.
We may go on a good cup un, and who knows, we may even get to a final but we all know that there are endemic problems in this squad and unless they’re addressed now rather than in the summer, our time at the top table is going to come to an end.