‘This is not good enough’ says legendary Arsenal striker
Ian Wright joins the list of ex-players wondering if Arsenal will ever win a trophy again
Arsenal, somehow, are still in it. In fact they actually remain in an enviable position, just two points off unconvincing leaders Chelsea who have more than a fair share of their own problems.
Despite that most crushing of home defeats last weekend, Arsenal could be top of the pile on Saturday afternoon before any of their rivals have had a chance to kick a ball in anger.
The trip to an Aston Villa side in a lame run of form is a welcome opportunity to get away from their home discomforts.
On their travels, Arsenal have won their last four domestically, losing just once in the Premier League since May 3 – that 2-0 loss at Chelsea despite dominating the stuttering hosts for huge swathes of the game.
Paul Merson said this week he simply can’t predict Arsenal scorelines any more because of their high level of inconsistency.
“I don’t know where I stand with them, to be honest. I bet Arsene Wenger has been tearing his hair out,” he sighed.
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This after telling the Ham&High last week he thought Saturday’s derby was Arsenal’s to lose, rather than Spurs’ to win – an accurate prediction as it turned out.
All Arsenal’s strengths were evident in the first half; exquisite technique, majestic one-touch pass-and-move, a killer instinct – in short, total domination of the opposition.
Tottenham had no answer and were, at times, left looking badly exposed.
But all of Arsenal’s weaknesses surfaced in the second 45; over-elaboration in front of the opponent’s goal, poor aerial ability in their own box, tendency for key players to switch off and, most infuriatingly, a disturbing inability to hold on to a strong lead – an annoying trait which been highlighted over and over again.
The same problem cost Arsenal a point in that infamous 4-4 draw with Spurs. And that was two years ago.
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright is not convinced by the current squad.
“Arsenal keep losing at home – and that ain’t right,” moaned the Gunners scoring legend after seeing leaders Chelsea remain top despite their third defeat in four games.
“The gap is closing with Arsenal and Tottenham – you can’t lose games like last Saturday if you are serious about winning the Premier League.
“I get a lot of stick from Arsenal fans for it but I’ll say it again; we need to start buying players who can help the kids who are there.
“We are left wanting at certain stages of the season, but I didn’t expect it to happen this early in the season. I thought January onwards, maybe, but not now, not before Christmas.”
Arsene Wenger has looked rattled this week – before the defeat in Portugal on Tuesday night he appeared to be a man with many concerns. Again, he criticised his players – unheard of a few short years ago – ruing “basic mistakes” and a “loss of focus”.
“They [the players] have the mentality, they want to win. But we have to analyse everything ...” he lamented after the derby loss, in which he cut a figure of frustration, angrily propelling a water bottle across the technical area as he watched helplessly from the sidelines.
“I believe some players could not maintain the pace of the game because they played Sunday, Wednesday, and again Saturday, and it’s too much.
“But we were 2-0 up and it was all in our hands. It is a strange coincidence of facts that happened which are very difficult to explain, even when you are in the job as long as I am.
“When you look at the run of the game, what we created and what Tottenham created, you are a bit speechless we lost,” he said.
“But we lost our focus, were punished on that and made some basic mistakes. At 2-0 up, it looked too easy and we eased a bit off. We certainly have a problem to sort out at home.”