Saturday’s games produced some key results at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea and Liverpool claimed wins, as did Everton.
One team from the top seven that did not claim victory was Arsenal, who produced a terrible performance to lose at Stoke 1-0.
The defeat left the Gunners trailing league leaders Chelsea by four points. Certain Arsenal fans are now calling for veteran Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to be sacked or quit, neither is likely to happen.
These were probably the same Gunners fans that were praising Wenger a few months ago when their team were flying high in the Premier League.
I try not to get carried away by team’s good or bad performances because we all know things can change in the blink of an eye in football. A few months ago Arsenal was the team to catch at the Premier League summit and now they are playing catch-up.
I was never truly convinced by Arsenal’s title challenge this season and thought they should have strengthened their squad in January, but that does not mean I believe that Wenger should leave the Emirates though.
Arsenal fans must be one of the most frustrated groups of supporters in the top-flight. They have the stature, stadium and infrastructure to be a truly dominant force on the European stage. However, this season has a major feeling of Deja-vu about it.
For years Arsenal fans have saw their club outspent by their rivals and falling behind. It is the same old story of Arsene Wenger treating the clubs money like it is his own and not spending it when reinforcements were clearly needed.
Arsenal reportedly had money to spend in the summer, despite the £42million signing of German playmaker Mesut Ozil, yet Wenger did not spend it. Anybody with a modicum of football knowledge could see that the Gunners were crying out for a world-class striker.
A theory that I subscribe to is the theory of strengthening when you are in a strong position. January was an ideal time for Wenger to go out and bring in fresh faces. The Gunners form has dipped since Boxing Day and fresh faces would have given everybody fresh impetus, just like the effect signing Ozil had on the club.
Wenger’s only January signing was an aging Swedish defensive midfielder who arrived in north London injured. Kim Kallstrom was in his pomp five or six years ago, when he was a star player for a strong Lyon side.
His arrival in January only caused consternation amongst Arsenal fans. Gunners fans ended up with a crocked Swede, instead of a shining new striker.
All is not lost for Arsenal fans though. The Gunners face Everton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup next weekend. The game gives the Arsenal players a chance to bounce back against an Everton side whose form has been patchy over the last month or so.
The Gunners may find themselves four points behind Chelsea in the league, but as I stated above things can change very quickly in football. The likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City could drop points in the next few games and that could open the door again for Wenger’s men.
The problem that Arsenal has is their nightmare fixture list. As a result of that Stoke defeat and the tough schedule ahead for Arsenal, the men from north London have drifted to odds of 20/1 to win the Premier League.
The Gunners face four of the top six in the Premier League in their next four top-flight matches. Wenger side visit arch-rivals Tottenham and title rivals Chelsea, before hosting another title rival Manchester City and visiting sixth-placed Everton.
After the cup game with Everton, Arsenal also face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their last 16 Champions League clash. It will be interesting to see how Wenger prioritises these fixtures. The Frenchman needs a FA Cup victory, but the Gunners are not completely out of Europe.
By the time all those games have been played it is not inconceivable that Arsenal will be out of the Premier League title race and out of both their remaining cup competitions. The Gunners have failed to impress in their previous difficult spells this season and they do not exactly head into this group of tough fixtures in high spirits.
They say that it is the hope that kills you, but for Arsenal fans there is still hope. There is still enough time for the Gunners to rescue their season, if not then I suspect the calls for Arsene Wenger to leave the club will ring even louder.
Is Arsenal’s season about to collapse?