As Arsenal lined up in the Stade Valdedrome last Wednesday night for the Champions League clash with Marseille, it was a little difficult to find any source of inspiration from a side so lacking in creative and forward-thinking quality.
This Arsenal side is so far removed from the quality of last year: the figures of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and, for the immediate future, Jack Wilshere, are nowhere to be seen in an Arsene Wenger side which, over the years, have prided themselves on attacking, expansive football.
…lacking any kind of purposeful, attacking movement.
For much of that evening we were witness to an Arsenal side lacking any kind of purposeful, attacking movement. Crosses were aimlessly coming into the box with no one in sight to latch on to the end of them, and for all the praise he has been given by his manager, Theo Walcott fails to show why he should be a central striker for a team so desperate for other options in the goal scoring department.
Similarly, during this weekend’s clash at home to Stoke City, much of Arsenal’s possession didn’t amount to much early on. There was very little bite from the midfield and had it not been for a moment of genius from Aaron Ramsey and the class and quality of super-sub Robin van Persie, the Gunners may have struggled once more to come away with all three points.
…seem a light year away compared to what’s on offer…
It seems such a long time ago that Andrey Arshavin scored the winner at home to Barcelona – one of the Emirates Stadium’s most memorable evenings thus far. The impressive performances against Chelsea and Manchester City last season now seem a light year away compared to what’s on offer at the moment in the red half of North London.
Fans always found themselves questioning why Arsenal couldn’t replicate those performances every game. The pressing high up the pitch, the quick, purposeful passing, and the desire to go out and win and prove why they should still be considered among the elite in English football. Now, however, fans struggle to see an easy victory against even the most mediocre opposition.
There isn’t the creative ability of a Fabregas,
Despite a few standout performances from select individuals so far this season, we’re seeing a completely different and, let’s be honest, regressing Arsenal side. This team, despite possessing one of Europe’s premier forwards in captain Robin van Persie, have no real leader on the pitch. There isn’t the creative ability of a Fabregas, or the power and drive of a Patrick Vieira, and still, sadly, the team lack a real goal scorer since the sale of Emmanuel Adebayor.
The philosophy that Arsene Wenger has of possession football cannot be expressed through his choice of players. The signings he has made over the past couple of seasons have done little to suggest that he still has that magic touch in the transfer market. These players do not have the qualities to implement the ideals of Arsenal’s greatest manager, nor do they have the fight or responsibility to roll their sleeves up and make changes themselves on the pitch when things aren’t going to plan.
…never humiliating teams within the first 25 minutes…
It’s sad to envisage this team never caressing a football as they once used to, never humiliating teams within the first 25 minutes by racking up a score of 4-0 and using their footballing ability to see out the rest of the game. Instead, those days are replaced by a group of players, as it’s sometimes hard to describe them as a team, who, quite bluntly, are not good enough to display the kind of beautiful football we have been so accustomed to watching over the past decade.
Images courtesy of Arsenal, Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor