Connect in the back of the net

Praveen’s latest “The Arsenal Annals” column.

Arsenal succumbed to their second consecutive loss on December 18 at Etihad Stadium as a Sergio Aguero-less Manchester City drubbed an allegedly soulless Arsenal 2-1.

The defeat followed another capitulation at Goodison Park as Everton had beaten them by the same scoreline just three days earlier.

The Gunners are now winless in two Premier League games, with the Everton game ending their 14-game unbeaten run.

With Manchester City and Manchester United struggling, many predicted a three-horse race for the English title, featuring Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.

The starting eleven’s purple patch of form validated the prediction as they had scored three or more goals in 13 competitive games.

However, two defeats later, they have now been relegated to the Manchester clubs’ level.

 

Most common concern

The commonest concern amongst the vocal Arsenal fan base is a perceived lack of aggression and desire.

An alteration to Arsenal’s loose mentality has been the widely suggested solution to their ongoing crisis.

During times of crisis, singling out a single factor for the same is often sports fans’ preferred coping strategy; however, more than a few factors lead to such decline, usually.

Wenger’s managing style can definitely be one of the reasons, but the fans should cut him some slack, especially since they are still in the title race even though the pessimistic bunch may not want to believe.

The Etihad game marked Arsenal’s fifth competitive game in 15 days as their demanding schedule also saw them make a 580-mile trip to Switzerland for the final Champions League group fixture.

 

Fatigue and complacency

Thanks to Wenger’s insistence on tackling all five games as he does potential title-deciders, the starting eleven hardly underwent tinkering; fatigue definitely have played a major role in the players’ underperforming.

Coming off a week’s rest, they will likely rebound by claiming West Bromwich Albion’s scalp on Monday night.

In addition, the unbeaten run, usurping Paris Saint-Germain to finish atop their Champions League group and scoring goals at will may also have gone to their head.

Despite the complacency factor being almost negligible for professional footballers, it ought to have had at least a little influence in Arsenal’s downfall, especially since results prior to the Goodison debacle were partially down to luck favouring them.

However, the back-to-back defeats should have served as a wakeup call, thereby prompting hard work from the seemingly lethargic individuals.

Though a change in working style can be tagged a change of mentality, it is certainly different from the need for an aggressive or Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira-esque attitude the fans have been advocating.

 

Contract disputes

Additionally, Arsenal’s two best players in Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have been embroiled in contract extension talks, with many fans already expecting one or both players to bid adieu to Ashburton Grove in the summer.

Once the negotiations come to a closure or the speculations cool off, Arsenal can and will most likely rediscover their winning form again.

 

A tweak in philosophy has been beneficial for the club

Besides, Wenger’s teams of the recent years have been built upon a certain mentality and opting to change the philosophy halfway into what a few fans view as a nightmarish season is unfeasible.

Arsenal will definitely prove their poor form is only a blip in the upcoming weeks.

 

Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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