Oh Arsenal. Arsenal have Arsenal’d the title race again. In the matter of a few days they have done something no one should ever do, they went full Arsenal.
Ugly scenes ensued and not just on Arsenal Fan TV. Abysmal in the first half against Watford and fortunate to only lose 3-1 to Chelsea, the Gunners have quite typically wiped themselves out of the title race in February. We can expect a good run of form from Arsenal sooner or later to make it look like they were in the reckoning, but really they have thrown their annual self-destruction into the mix when January has barely passed.
Repetition is often tedious. Consistency is often tiresome after a while. Being consistently flaky when it really matters is perhaps the most annoying of all. The same mistakes, same excuses each year do not save Arsenal, they only amplify the ludicrous collapses that are the bane of their seasons.
No Premier League title in nearly a decade and a half, yet the Gunners hardly look closer to lifting the trophy. This is the best squad Arsene Wenger has had as his disposal in many, many years, but they have been found wanting when it matters again.
Next up in the league for Arsenal is Hull City. Marco Silva’s side were unfortunate not to take at least a point from Stamford Bridge, have twice frustrated Manchester United and did a brilliant job of nullifying and pouncing on Liverpool. Even at the Emirates they shan’t be a walkover. In fact, it could be one of the toughest matches of their season after the consecutive crushing defeats.
Two legs with Bayern Munich are quickly approaching for Arsenal, too. Their season could rapidly spiral into not just a failure, but a complete and utter disaster. With their title credentials in tatters, even maintaining a top four spot – which has been Arsene Wenger’s stronghold over the years – looks a significant challenge. Champions League progression is impossible unless they turn their form around immediately.
Hull are not the opponents the Gunners want to face, they are the team they need to beat and beat comfortably. Alexis Sanchez’s frustrations will only grow should these two defeats become something more severe and they can at least put the Watford horror show and Chelsea drubbing behind them with a convincing performance against Silva’s Tigers.
The trouble for Arsenal is, it’s hard to see where such a performance will appear from. Failure to beat Hull would only increase the frustration around the Emirates – and perhaps at board level – with Wenger’s future surely under scrutiny already.
The Arsenal board have made it clear they will not remove Wenger from his post. It seems as though as long as he wants the job he will be given contract renewals. That’s understandable given his service to the club, perhaps, but the peril of finishing outside the top four and failing to make any meaningful leaps forward in the Champions League would have to make them re-evaluate and maybe see Wenger consider his own future. Changing manager presents its own risk, of course, but that is a risk Arsenal must take if they wish to realistically compete at Europe’s top table.
The league is over again, Arsenal. The Champions League is unlikely, again. Failure to beat Sutton United would cap the most Arsenal of seasons. Arsenal’s fans are right to be furious with Wenger and, if he truly does want the best for the club, retirement must be in the forefront of his mind.
Hull could be the final nail in Wenger’s long Arsenal tenure.