Where do Arsenal go from here?

By Avenell Dave

I woke up on Saturday morning with a sense of foreboding.

My relaxed, confident feeling about playing Liverpool all but disappeared by mid-morning and 20 minutes in, did any of us really believe that Arsenal could get back into it?

Many have commented, quite rightly, that losing 8-2 at Old Trafford a couple of years ago was blown out of proportion by the media and some fans.

We played kids, injuries and suspensions having shorn us of players who could have made us something like competitive.

There were no such excuses to be had on Saturday.

Yes, we are without Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott, all players who would arguably have been involved in some shape or form.

But we had as strong and competitive a side as we could muster on Saturday and the way they fell apart early on was as shameful as it was dispiriting.

You can argue that Per Mertesacker no more fouled Luis Suarez in the first minute than any other player who goes shoulder to shoulder with an opponent but the way we defended that first free kick and then throughout the first half was shameful.

It put paid to any suggestions that we have the mental and organisational resolve not to be brushed aside by top class opposition and given the way Manchester City put six past us earlier this season, our ability to travel away for Saturday lunchtime kick-offs is also questionable.

Thankfully, we have played many of the big teams away already, although trips to Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton are already bringing me out in cold sweats.

You have to go back to early November and the win at Dortmund for our last really impressive away win.

A friend of mine, a neutral who wants to see Arsenal do well, describes it as "big-game-itis" and that's a fair assessment. I hate the fact that it is.

We know full well that this group of players is capable of taking opponents apart. We know that their record over the past 13 months is pretty impressive and up there in terms of consistency with anyone else in our division.

But I doubt Arsene Wenger or any of his coaching staff or players can fathom why we are prone to such aberrations let alone why we cannot find the consistency and grit required of title-winning sides.

Much has been said about Mesut Ozil and, whether it's down to the lack of a winter break or his struggle to get used to the pace of the English game, perhaps a game or two out of the firing line will help him re-focus at this critical time.

For so many, Saturday's embarrassment underlined the frailty of our squad, the lack of tactical nous from the manager and lack of strategy from anyone at the club involved with transfers given the absence of any decent signings to bolster the squad and give everyone a lift.

That's simplifying the situation even if you can understand why people come to those conclusions.

Let's hope that Manchester City's slump goes beyond two games and that Chelsea revert to the side lacking goals that they exemplified earlier in the season.

Would Flamini have made a huge difference had he not been suspended for an utterly avoidable red card? Who knows?

I don't think even Wenger can be confident which Arsenal side will turn up on Wednesday hen we face a Manchester United side whose own "crisis" makes them a lot more dangerous than many give them credit for.

Every single Premier League game should be seen as a cup final now, if it wasn't already. And fighting like mad to make sure we give our very best in each game is the least we can hope for.

Supporting Arsenal means sticking with the team through thick and thin.

But the inconsistency and inability to show up in big games is becoming a challenge to even the most die-hard fans such as I.

Let's hope the next few weeks do not signal the impending doom everyone is expecting of us.