Arsenal have recently lost to Manchester City 3-1 leaving the gap between Arsenal and top of the table at 12 points just 11 games into the season. Manchester City have started this season like a house on fire, they have been compared to Arsene Wenger’s 2003/2004 invincibles and now have an 8 point lead over 2nd place. So has Arsenal’s title race burned out already or can some sparks rekindle in the embers?
At the moment it looks bleak. However, Arsenal’s next match is the North London Derby and a big win against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur would ignite the fire to push Arsenal back into the right direction again, as well as giving the fans and players a massive boost in morale.
Against City Arsenal showed the resolve and fight that is demanded in big games; many times in recent years we would have seen Arsenal teams fold after conceding early in a big game. But they battled through the City onslaught and almost grabbed an equaliser on the break of half time. In the second half City was granted a penalty after some sloppy defending which lead to the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal’s club record signing was dropped to the bench for the second time this season. Despite this, he had an imminent impact netting for the 6th time this season. Arsenal now looked likely to score an equaliser when City’s third came from an awful decision from the linesman. Beyond this point the game died and Jack Wilshere made an impressive cameo appearance. Despite losing the game to a City team of high quality it was our own sloppiness in passing the ball out from the back that cost us. Each goal came from an Arsenal error: the first was a poor pass from Iwobi on the edge of our own box, the second was a badly timed offside trap from Kolasinac and clumsy foul by Monreal, the third goal was a bad decision from the linesman but the Arsenal defences slowness to react was school boy like and gifted City an easy goal. Arsenal had a bad game and yet it was down to our own undoing that cost us rather than City’s terrifying attack, therefore we can take positives from the game and go into the return fixture confident that if the players turn up we can beat them.
Whilst we are a long way off, in football anything can happen. The international break is here and who knows what could happen over it . Whether it is an injury, players having a negative international break or simply a disruption in their rhythm, City could hit a patch of poor form and slump back into a closely contested title race. It is only 11 games into the season and it is too early to call who will lift the Premier League trophy at the end of it. Arsenal’s next game is massive. It’s the North London Derby and should Arsenal lose then the gap between rivals will only increase more, the next five games are must win to spark a fire back into Arsenal’s season.
This international break must be a catalyst for change this season, as Arsene Wenger’s change in formation was last season. Arsenal went from a patch of bad form into winning 9 of the last 10 games, as well as the FA cup final against Champions Chelsea last season. Arsene Wenger has had the international break before the North London Derby to try and recreate the change in momentum like he did last season. No matter what something has to change over this break to cause the same desired effect to Arsenal’s form as last seasons switch of formation did. Whether this is how we go about pressing off the ball or a change in formation and personnel, this team needs a new lease of life. I’d personally love to see Arsenal become a more free flowing and fast pace team once again, rather than the stale and lifeless side we have at the moment with the focus too much on the defence. It is down to the players to bring the flair and hard work ethic onto the pitch to make the atmosphere electric and create the element of excitement around the ground. It is time to ditch the 3 back and move back to the 4 back. Arsene Wenger has to step up and make big calls, have the performances of Özil and Alexis merited a place in the first team? I do not think it is a coincidence that the only big game that both are left out is one of the most impressive team performances by Arsenal in a big away game for a very long time.
Whilst Arsenal are a long way off so far this season we do not know what is around the corner. It is down to the team to bring back top quality performances and the exciting football that gets the fans of their seats, the more positive the atmosphere the more beneficial it will be for the club, and the only way to improve the atmosphere is through results. So, no Arsenal’s season is not over yet. It hangs in the balance, we can not afford to drop anymore points and all we can do now is keep winning and wait for rivals to slip up. However unlikely this outcome may be it is not impossible and whilst there is still hope we as a fan base should be giving the team our best to try achieve the high standards Arsenal Football Club set themselves. But, we also have to be realistic. Arsenal have started this season poorly, if we do not begin to gain ground on rivals then this season will turn out to be a fight to return to the Champions League, which via top 4 or winning the Europa League would be a good platform for the club to rebuild for next season (which is the more realistic prospect of Arsenal’s season at the moment). Nevertheless, the North London Derby is looking set to be a massive game for both clubs, nothing less than a win will do. Come on you Gunners!