Arsenal have endured a difficult campaign, but Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at arch-rivals Tottenham on Sunday in the north London derby illustrated Arsenal’s weaknesses perfectly.
The Gunners have been regarded as a team with a soft centre for a while.
However, the lack of determination and will-to-win against Tottenham was frightening. After the game, Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen summed it up by saying: “We wanted to win more than them,”
A lack of desire should not be an issue in a local derby, especially one that has such potential implications.
Just thrown together
The performance of the two teams was a stark contrast. Tottenham knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing and stuck to that. Arsenal, though, looked like they were a bunch of strangers just thrown together.
The Gunners did not look like a team. That all boils down to the boss Arsene Wenger. Doubts about the Frenchman’s position and his ability to move his team forward will not be helped by this display.
Quite frankly the veteran French boss looks lost at the moment. It could be argued that the same has been true at times throughout the last decade. The recent switch to 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 was implemented because his team was struggling and he did not know what to do.
The switch yielded three results, albeit narrow wins. The switch was never going to cure all Arsenals’ ills though. A lot of the players on the pitch have proven time and time again they are not good enough. There are too many players not pulling their weight in that Arsenal team.
Even the normally energetic Alexis Sanchez seems to have given up in recent months, which may be put down to the Chilean being unsettled at the club. German playmaker Mesut Ozil was less visible than the invisible man during the derby.
Things will not change if Wenger stays
While Tottenham have been improving and strengthening their squad, Arsenal have been in decline in recent years. Wenger has kept faith with players that have done little to show that they are capable of improving significantly in the future.
Wenger was annoyed by comparisons with Tottenham in his post-match interview and stormed off mid-interview. However, comparisons with the upwardly mobile Spurs were always going to happen, as Pochettino’s side have been so much better than the Gunners this season.
The same old players and the same old boss are making the same mistakes every season. Even when Wenger does splash the cash the new players seem to buy into the current apathy at the club. Or the players are just not good enough to compete.
The fact that Grant Xhaka looked poor against Tottenham’s Victor Wanyama in the centre of the park illustrates the point perfectly. Wenger reportedly had the opportunity to buy Wanyama but decided not. That is another one to add to the ‘one that got away’ category for the Frenchman.
In truth, until Wenger leaves the club, the team’s mentality will not change. A change of mentality is desperately needed for Arsenal to stay anywhere near the top of the Premier League.
Somehow still in the top-four race
The Gunners are somehow still in the race for a top-four finish and odds of 6/1 to finish in the Champions League spots. Weekend draws for Manchester City and Manchester United could aid the Gunners bid for another season in Europe’s elite competition next season.
However, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be very fortunate if his side does manage to sneak into those top-four spots this season. For much of the campaign, the north London side have been unconvincing.
The same old problems have persisted for years at Arsenal. The Gunners have lacked steel in midfield, the star players do not turn up for the big games and the defence seems to struggle when faced with any physical opponents.
In short, the Gunners will be very fortunate to finish in the top-four of the Premier League this season. The team from north London now have to depend on their rivals slipping up to claim fourth spot.
If the Gunners do finish in the top-four and win the FA Cup, Wenger will probably describe the campaign as a successful one. The majority of Arsenal supporters will disagree.
As it is it seems unlikely that Arsenal will achieve ‘a successful season’ as the team are struggling for points and confidence. The north London derby exposed the Gunners weaknesses. The clash showed just where the two teams are in terms over moving forward in the future.
Did any Arsenal players impress in the north London derby?
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