During the break there was some good news, with Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna coming through 90 minutes in a behind the doors friendly against Chelsea. Olivier Giroud came on in the dying minutes for France in a Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier against Spain and scored the equalizer, the Ox scored his debut goal for England against the hapless San Marino team, whilst Theo Walcott was almost cut in half by the wildest of challenges from the San Marino goalkeeper, ruling him out of action for the weekend game against Norwich.
The international break is an annoyance, but what is really aggravating is going into a league game, convinced that three points are there for the taking, only to see your prima donna superstars lose a game, not because they weren’t good enough, but because their attitude stank.
There’s no comfort in knowing that your nearest and most hated rival also lost; because their defeat came against a fellow rival who you despise almost as much and who are likely to be more of a threat when it comes to winning silverware.
Losing to a Norwich City team which had conceded 17 goals in seven games and had failed to register a league victory all season was particularly galling.
For once Arsene Wenger actually acknowledged that the loss was down to the ineptitude of the players, which then raises the question as to whether he might have done more to influence his underperforming stars.
Is it only after such games that supporters really appreciate the value of having a real leader on the field? Would Tony Adams or Patrick Vieira have allowed their players to put in such an insipid performance?
Mikel Arteta was outstanding against Norwich; but with Santi Cazorla not performing to his usual high standard, the team were bereft of ideas, wasting possession cheaply. Is this Arsenal team once again becoming too reliant on a single player? After last season’s reliance on van Persie’s goals, it is essential that the group do not rely on Cazorla to provide all of the ammunition.
Over the course of a nine month season every team has some bad days; what is important is to ensure that these bad days are kept to a minimum and for the team to respond in the most positive way by winning subsequent games.
The good news is that with matches coming thick and fast, the Gunners have the perfect opportunity to put Saturday’s disappointment behind them with the visit of Schalke to the Emirates on Wednesday evening. The Germans will be buoyed after their surprise away win over Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund and will certainly provide a stern test for Arsenal.
Three points for Arsenal will all but guarantee qualification for the knock out stage of the Champions League, but equally important the target has to be to finish the group in first place to ensure a potentially easier game in the knockout stages of the competition in February.
While Arsene Wenger is concerned at Arsenal’s current league position and the ten point gap that separates them from leaders Chelsea; the league table is very much in its embryonic stage. There will be many twists and turns before the table takes a more familiar look and with the return of key players, especially Szczesny, Wilshere and Diaby, Arsenal are still very much in a position to mount a serious challenge on all fronts.