So we lost two valuable home-points today against lowly placed Wolves, and now we are all feeling down?
Man City drew against West Brom and Liverpool could not kill off Blackburn yesterday, and neither could Chelsea see-off Fulham. I am as disappointed as anybody for dropping two points against Wolves at home. But the boys gave everything yesterday and it was not to be: 23 attempts on goal, 17 on target and only one goal showing for it (according to the BBC website). When Arsenal play at home and concede such an unfortunate equaliser the most important thing is to find a balance between a calm/focussed approach to find good scoring opportunities on the one hand, and to develop a real sense of urgency on the other hand. The longer the game took the more we lost that balance, as our sense of urgency took more and more control, at the cost of quality.
This can happen. At least our players never gave up but kept believing. I am absolutely convinced that playing 5 games in the space of 15 days will mean that the teams who are closely competing against each other will, more or less, end up with the same points tally at the end of that period.
There are just too many games in succession for any team to make a bigger leap forward than its direct competitors. At the moment, our direct competitors are Liverpool, Newcastle United, The Spuds and the Chavs. Don’t be totally surprised if by the 4th of January all these teams, as well as Arsenal, will have gathered a similar number of points over the five PL games during the Christmas/New Year period.
Last year, most of us leaped to big conclusions when Arsenal did not manage to beat Wigan away at this stage. We had just beaten the Chavs at home and expectations were sky-high. Arsene was criticised for resting too many players back then, and he will probably now be criticised for not making enough changes, or making the wrong changes in yesterday’s game. The masters of hindsight will now start discussing all the things Wenger should have done, and criticising the choices he made before and during the game. But, I say it again: 17 shots on target and only one went in. Wolves scored a fortuitous goal and we just missed a bit of composure and a bit of luck to win this game. We totally deserved it, but it just was not to be. Did we deserve three points against Aston Villa, a few days ago? Possibly not, but we got them anyway. It’s swings and roundabouts.
In a busy footie-fixtures period like this, we need to move on to the next game and try to win that one. And then move on again and try to win the next one. This is a period of getting as many points as possible and to not have too high expectations of catching up with our most direct competitors. We made great progress in the last few months, and we are now consolidating this. Over the next few months, Arsenal will start working towards 3rd and 4th spot in the PL, and to do well in the CL and FA cup rounds. If we can manage our expectations a bit, and I am talking to myself as well here, the second part of the season can become a very enjoyable one.
Let’s keep the faith: the New Arsenal has all the ingredients for success – it just might take a bit longer than we want it to take.