Arsenal’s Season Drifting Aimlessly Along

By Matt Brown
In Arsenal
Mar 2nd, 2017

Every supporter tells you their season is a roller coaster; ride out the lows and enjoy the highs. Your definition of high may be set lower than mine, and almost certainly, your low is higher than mine. I’m down so low that I’ve seen species which would terrify Mulder and Scully.

And Arsenal’s season is very much an X-File. Almost inexplicably, when things are trundling along quite nicely, the wheels will come off. How long it takes to repair depends on which wheel is affected. This year, it’s the Santi Cazorla-sized wheel.

It’s a familiar pattern; every campaign suffers through injury to one or more of the squad. This time, it’s become a tipping point for many people. Chelsea were destroyed in the first half at the Emirates and used it as a turning point in their season.

We went to Everton top of the table; by the end of that week, Arsenal were down to fourth and there we resolutely remain. They were defeats which destroyed the much-fabled mental strength which Arsène loves to witter on about.

For the first time, the number of supporters who believe it should be the manager’s final season at the club exceeds those who want him to stay. Ambivalence is Arsène Wenger’s biggest enemy and as the club continues to drift, so do their chances of winning the league as forecasted by CrownBet’s English Premier League odds.

Arsenal are as far away from winning the title as they have been at any point in the last decade. The manager has to take responsibility but so do the players. They are the ones whose performances on the pitch earn results. Or not as the case may be, but which are the three players who are outperforming expectations this time around?

Alexis Sanchez

When Arsène failed to invest in a striker this summer, eyes were raised at the prospect of Alexis playing the lead striker role. The Chilean does so successfully for his country but at Arsenal, previous experiments in the role ended in failure.

He’s been a revelation; 17 goals in the Premier League and 8 assists? Thank you very much, Mr 20-goals-a-season. He’s already surpassed Olivier Giroud’s best season in the Premier League for the club.

No wonder his contract situation pricked the interest of Europe’s elite. A return to Barcelona is out of the question but Juventus or Real Madrid? Definite possibilities although his problems with the Spanish taxman may put the Italians in the box seat.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Yes, I know, it’s a surprise inclusion but since moving into the central role, he has been a revelation. The performance at St Mary’s in the 5 – 0 win over Southampton in the FA Cup was always qualified with ‘it was their reserves’.

Subsequent outings answered that and a brighter future seems on the cards than if he were waiting for the right midfield slot to come available. Certainly, he’s been the best answer to the question of who replaces Santi Cazorla in the starting line-up.

Santi Cazorla

I’m well aware that he hasn’t played this season but like Tomas Rosicky, his value to the side increases when he’s absent from the starting line-up. It won’t be any surprise if he comes second in the supporters’ Player of the Season award.

Just for good measure, he’s now out until August…

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A Gooner since the dark days of the mid 80s. Still waiting for number 14.

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