By Avenell Dave
After Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City’s first goal on Saturday, I had a resigned feeling that this was going to be a torrid afternoon.
When Theo Walcott equalised, I dared to believe.
But watching the game, despite our own chances, the questionable officiating and obvious fatigue, it felt more like a cat toying with a mouse, knowing that however much the latter could run, the cat was always going to have the upper hand, chewing it to bits whenever it felt like it.
Was it men against boys? Hardly.
Arsenal put up a good fight and on a different day, may have got something from this game.
As someone pointed out, the real question is how City, with their embarrassment of riches, can be behind us in the table. Let’s hope their indifferent away form continues and the spark that makes them so devastating at home dies out.
We’ve seen a more relaxed Arsene Wenger this season, particularly since our long run that has seen us get to the top of the table.
He’s been back to his former self, almost, his frowns fading, his myopic view of the game receding and he has exuded a confidence that underlines our performances.
But that slipped again on Saturday. City were by far the better team.
In recent weeks, Arsenal's swagger has gone and whether that is down to fatigue or something else, I don’t know.
Much has already been said about the individual mistakes that cost us on Saturday.
You could point the finger at Szczesny, Monreal, Mertesacker and Koscielny, all usually so reliable, for having a collective off-day and coupled with some misplaced passes in midfield, City took full advantage.
Perhaps this would have been a day to play Flamini and Arteta after all, but certainly the soon to be suspended Jack Wilshere, letting the occasion get to him only because he knows his own form is patchy and the exhausted Ramsey offered little protection or guile.
While Ozil has more assists to his name, we have yet to see the world-beating performances that we would expect of someone with his billing – but this is a new league and we have to have patience.
Most of concern is Olivier Giroud, who continues gallantly upfront but lacks the wit or the fortune to score against the big clubs.
Even Cazorla, someone who would normally be first name on the teamsheet, has been so hapless at times this season that his exclusion was no real shock.
It underlines the need for reinforcements in January, a time when they are so hard t come by and so much more expensive.
The injury to Koscielny underlines how small our defensive pool is and while another defensive midfielder would be of value – the beast we have all yearned for – another striker is vital if we are to remain in contention for the title.
But who? I can’t think if anyone at a smaller club, unsettled or sitting on the bench who would fit our requirements. That is, someone who regularly scores 20+ goals, who has pace and power and can win games by making chances almost on their own.
People talk of Benzema especially if Suarez goes to Madrid, but there is no chance the Liverpool forward will move before the end of the season and likewise the Frenchman in a World Cup year.
There are nine days between City and facing Chelsea at home. Time to regroup, refresh and focus on beating a small West London club who showed against Palace on Saturday that they are not currently the force they once were.
There has been much to applaud about Arsenal this season.
Whatever anyone says about our failings about the bigger clubs, we remain top of the table, but unless we get our form back both individually and collectively – and fast – we aren’t going to stay there.
A final thought – even on a bad weekend for Arsenal, you can always rely on Tottenham to make it a brighter weekend for us Addicts.