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After the dismal display at Anfield and the subsequent transfer market chaos which followed, Arsenal quite simply have to turn their focus back to football and bounce back at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.
The 4-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool highlighted the many flaws in Arsene Wenger’s squad and game plan, however home matches against teams expected to be battling relegation are where the Gunners must pick up expected points.
Alexis Sanchez will return following the deadline day drama surrounding his move to Manchester City and it will be interesting to see if he is indeed as focused on the job as his recent Instagram post suggests.
Never has a prospective title challenge crumbled as quickly as Arsenal’s did on Merseyside, with not even the most blinkered supporter believing this team has a chance at lifting the crown this term; however this may well end up taking some of the pressure off.
In recent seasons playing at the Emirates Stadium hasn’t actually been that easy for the home side with supporter unrest often leading to difficult atmospheres and slow performances.
This frustration stems from the continued inability to challenge for the title as well as supporters being regularly misled by those in charge of running the club.
Bournemouth arrive in North London on Saturday amidst the backdrop of planned protests against Stan Kroenke, Arsene Wenger and the general malaise that has taken an iron grip of the club in the last six months.
The mood isn’t an expectant one and the pressure to battle for the title is seemingly off, this could help the Gunners and give them a more relaxed atmosphere to play their football, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that this is a team that always does well when the pressure is off.
Time to reintroduce Wilshere?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s departure doesn’t necessarily hurt Arsenal in a football sense as much as it did from a PR perspective.
The former Southampton academy graduate was only in the first-team to facilitate the use of a 3-4-3 system which was initially introduced last season to stop the rot caused by horrific defending after Christmas.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is not a natural wing-back and if losing him allows Wenger to return to a more stable system then so be it. Jack Wilshere is the most naturally talented midfielder Arsenal has in their squad but unfortunately fitness issues have all but killed his top level career.
Wilshere however cares about Arsenal, he has grown up at the club and at a time when it looks as if the desire within the camp is at its lowest ever level, reintroducing Wilshere could actually be a masterstroke.
The most harrowing factor in the 4-0 reverse at Anfield was how little fight the visitors showed.
It is understood that Wenger’s teams can’t necessarily be as defensively organised as is required at the upper level of England’s top flight, however simply rolling over for a top-four rival is as ugly as it is unthinkable.
The bond between club and supporters is fractured to the degree that you would find it difficult to believe it can be repaired under the current American administration. With that being said fans will continue coming to games week after week, because it is what keeps them going.
In these isolated 90 minute intervals the only thing that matters is how Arsenal play and the result, not whether the club is stagnating or has higher financial concerns that previously thought.
Arsenal have to start giving their fans something to enjoy and cheer for and the only way they can do that is by showing effort and winning matches. Bournemouth are one of three teams yet to pick up a point this season and there could hardly be a more suited matchup for the home side.
It remains to be seen if there is a long lasting impact on the Arsenal players, especially ones that almost left on the deadline, but their focus has to be on football until January. If it isn’t they will suffer as much as the Arsenal supporters with their own respective market values dropping.
Europa League crucial for the Gunners
The Europa League suddenly takes on more importance for the Gunners just as it did for Manchester United last term.
It provides a priceless route back into the Champions League, especially important for a team that looks incapable of getting themselves together consistently enough to finish inside the top four.
If Wenger can reshuffle his team in a way that starts to pick up results then the Thursday-Sunday fixture scheduling could actually benefit them as momentum builds.
Arsenal must win on Saturday
Before that though Bournemouth have to be beaten, no other result will do for Arsenal given the fact their next opponent is Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
If points are dropped against the Cherries on Saturday and then Chelsea, as expected, eases to a victory the week after, then we could see yet another crisis at Arsenal that rivals the second half of the 2016/17 season that almost forced the French coach out of the club.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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