Arsenal Bubble Receives Dent From Bent


November is notoriously a tricky period for Arsène Wenger’s red and white army, or more like black and blue girl scouts based on Saturday’s showing. On this evidence, with a growing injury list and tricky fixtures up ahead, November doesn’t look like she’s going to surrender just yet.

An early winter encounter at the Stadium of Light epitomises a difficult test for The Arsenal and is by no means considered an easy game by the fans. This is chiefly due to the fact that our ‘little little players’, as Gabriele Marcotti likes to say, have a mysterious fear of bitter Northern winds. Add to this a starting XI void of Van Persie, Walcott, Clichy, Arshavin and Diaby, this fixture was never going to be a straightforward 3 points. But wait a minute, I hear you yell, these are exactly the sort of fixtures a weakened United or Chelsea team would probably win 1-0 via a deflected goal in the 82nd minute. This is absolutely correct. For seasons upon seasons now we have known that Arsenal struggle up North and particularly when the depth of their squad has been put to the test. Although we have all been secretly floating along on the beautiful-football wagon over the last couple of months, deep down, inside our red, white and very trophyless hearts, we know that this is by no means our year. That is not to say we will not win the league, I personally think we have a decent enough chance, it is just to say that this is not OUR year, it is evidently Chelsea’s year, and theirs, and only theirs, to muck up.

So now the scrutinizing questions from unhappy board members and the prawn sandwich brigade will exhaustingly begin once again, until a comfortable victory tomorrow night against one of Europe’s minnows excites them once more. For the more level-headed bunch of us, we can see that our season is by no means over, that Eduardo may still be an adequate replacement for Van P. and that the next time Arsène puts into practice his squad rotation system, and anything else he’s learnt from Fergie, by leaving Arshavin on the bench, it may just work. However, 3 points is 3 points is 3 points, and we are now 8 behind Chelsea, albeit with a game in hand.

Sunday should be the perfect way to redeem ourselves, and although Tuesday’s showdown with Liège should be a formality, it will give us an insight into Arsène’s plans for the London derby. Will he continue with the short length passers and masters of possession in Nasri and Rosický, or will he throw in the more direct runners that are Arshavin and Walcott. It’s a hard call, a mix and match is potentially on the cards and against one of the meanest defences in the league, the blend will have to be perfect. A win could re-ignite our season and keep us very much in contention for the title, a draw would be a good platform to build from and a loss would obviously be a major disappointment but, for me, not a conclusive one. You have to remember that most years United start slowly then pounce into action around this time of year. We’ve started very well, and we will inevitably hit a blip, but it is how we come out of said blip which will define our season, and a loss against Chelsea, if it happens, mustn’t be seen as the end, but merely another test.


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