Football FanCast columnist Tom Jones contemplates whether Arsenal’s draw from a winning position on Sunday will be a shot in the arm for the team.
It was a familiar story for Arsenal on Sunday evening as they let a 2-0 lead slip against West Ham and questions will once again be raised about their ability to challenge for the Premier League title. In a game in which they were cruising to victory they seemed to take their foot off the gas and were unable to close out the match. But will Arsenal be able to learn from their mistakes and could their poor second half performance turn out to be the shot in the arm that they needed to drive them on to greater things?
Manager Arsene Wenger will be concerned by their frailties at the back and needs to instil a ruthless nature in his young side quickly. The problem for Arsenal is that currently they don’t seem to be able to grind out results like they have in the past. When they play well they are unstoppable, but when they are off form they look vulnerable in defence and seem to lack a win at all costs mentality. Their draw at Upton Park was the second time in six days that they let a lead slip and they need to be able to close out matches to become serious title challengers. While in recent weeks Arsenal, led by an inspirational Cesc Fabregas, have looked the part, Wenger still has work to do with his relatively inexperienced side to lead them to their first trophy in five years.
Wenger himself was incredibly frustrated to drop two points and told The Times “it is a major missed opportunity.” He further stated that “we need to learn to finish these games off, [that is] the most important lesson today.” Even though decisions went against Arsenal, Wenger didn’t use them as an excuse and shy away from the fact that his team should have easily won the game. By not closing out the match Arsenal revealed one of their frailties and showed that they are still not the finished article. The question is can Arsenal learn from their mistakes and will Wenger be able to instil a more ruthless nature in his team?
Wenger is undoubtedly a highly experienced and talented enough manager to be able to turn Sunday’s result into a positive and make sure that Arsenal finish off teams in the future. However, I can’t help but feel that the match at Upton Park could become a regular occurrence this season. Arsenal tend to concede soft goals in matches where they dominate possession and aren’t clinical enough to put the match to bed. Wenger will know as much as anyone that Arsenal cannot afford to drop points from winning positions and need to be more ruthless. But it remains to be seen whether Sunday’s result will be a blessing in disguise, or will missed opportunities be the story of Arsenal’s season?