With Arsenal still effectively in the Premier League title race, still in the FA Cup and still in the UEFA Champions League, it probably seems a little misguided and somewhat pre-emptive to suggest that things are going “wrong.”
But you can just sense things are about to unravel, can’t you? It seems inevitable, and given the previous eight campaigns that have been scarce of silverware, a capitulation at this juncture would be certainly be true to current form for the Gunners.
For those of an Arsenal allegiance, it’s a shame for this season things promised to be different. The Gunners brought in a big name in Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey realized (maybe even exceeded) his potential, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker clicked superbly as a centre back duo, and the team were grinding out results when it mattered, most notably the 1-0 away at an in-form Newcastle United side.
But after the Gunners meekly surrendered to a typically robust Stoke City side at the Britannia stadium last weekend, their season is teetering on the brink of oblivion.
The momentum they manufactured at the back-end of 2013 has been sapped on the domestic front, whilst it’ll take a miracle to overhaul a 2-0 deficit to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Now, they stand on the cusp of a well-documented horrendous run of fixtures with the FA Cup the only realistic chance of silverware.
But why has the North London club — a footballing institution that has success engrained into its very being — come up short so often as of late? And in the short-term, why is it set to happen to them once again, in a campaign that had tempted us with so much for so long?
The natural place to start is with the current playing staff. Certainly, the injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott have robbed this Arsenal squad of two unique stylistic dimensions.
Ramsey, in particular, has been a big miss. Prior to his injury, the Welshman was blossoming into the league’s most complete midfield player; making tackles, playing passes, driving forward, creating chances and scoring goals. Without him, Arsenal lack a dynamism from central areas. The likes of Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta are all fine manipulators of the ball. But that industry and impetus in the middle of the park is sorely missed.