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Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?

Arsenal Stoke 600x426 Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?

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.

WalcottRamsey 600x376 Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?


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.

Factor in Walcott’s injury too, and the XI starts to look increasingly one dimensional. Without the England forward, there is nobody to stretch the opposition laterally by hugging the touchline or vertically, with a direct threat capable of running in behind. It makes it easy for opposition defenses to set up against Arsenal, and whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can offer a blistering presence on the flanks, he is still young, somewhat raw and returning from a major injury layoff.

These injuries are unfortunate but inevitable for any team, and a man of Arsene Wenger’s experience is well aware of that. Naturally, it begs the question as to why didn’t Arsenal boss bolster the squad in January and indulge after his team’s excellent start?

Granted, it is difficult to make signings in January given the nature of the mid-season window, but the flaws in this squad were there for all to see: most notably the aforementioned stylistic deficiencies and obvious notion that Olivier Giroud cannot lead the line by himself for the entirety of this campaign.

Kallstrom 600x399 Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?


Instead of bringing in a couple of new faces to revitalize and bolster the squad ahead of a title tilt, Wenger drafted in an injured, aging midfield player who has yet to play a game for the club.

Subsequently, the group looks increasingly jaded. Ozil is clearly toiling having played an unprecedented amount of minutes in an unfamiliarly intense league, whilst Giroud seems incapable of putting in consecutive performances of an intensity comparable to his early season efforts.

Giroud Ozil 600x347 Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?


It’s also a squad that is scarred by capitulations from years gone by and one that subsequently lacks a winning instinct in those crucial moments.

Just look at some of the poor decisions made in recent weeks made by Gunners’ players: Ozil walking up to that penalty against Bayern, Wojciech Szczesny charging out of his goal to fell Arjen Robben in the same game and Koscielny’s rash defending in the penalty area against Stoke. There was also the recent game against Liverpool, when Lukas Podolski and then Oxlade-Chamberlain needlessly clattered Luis Suarez in the penalty area in the FA Cup fifth round tie.

Ox Suarez 600x418 Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?


Aside from the FA Cup game, in which they were lucky to progress, these bad choices made in vital moments have conspired to damage their chances significantly in two competitions. They are self-defeating, avoidable instances, but at this point of the campaign, these moments have become all too commonplace for Arsenal down the years.

So, what next? Well, whilst there is nothing Wenger can do about his squad at this juncture, they need to rediscover what it’s like to go all the way in a tournament. And with the FA Cup the most attainable trophy on their radar, Saturday’s quarterfinal against Everton takes on added significance.

It’s a tournament that may not hold clout comparable to a Premier League or Champions League win. But it’s a trophy nonetheless, and one that could certainly pave the way for a stronger mentality and a belief in competitions to come they have what it takes to make it to the final knockings.

For more Arsenal news, analysis and opinion, visit our Arsenal team page.

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About Matt Jones

Matt has been writing for World Soccer Talk for more than two years, contributing pieces about myriad topics and regularly lending his voice to the podcast. Matt has covered games live for the website from a host of venues, including Wembley, London and the ANZ Stadium, Sydney. He is a regular at Goodison Park where he watches his beloved Everton, but harbours an unyielding interest in all aspects of European soccer. You can get in touch with Matt via e-mail at or on Twitter @MattJFootball
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15 Responses to Why Does It Continue To Go Wrong For Arsenal?

  1. panther says:

    Arsenal were not lucky to beat Liverpool in the FA cup. Webb made a bad decision Fabianski made good saves, which is what goal keepers are paid to do. Whinging about Arsenal being “lucky” is irrelivent because Arsenal have also been on the receiving end of bad refereeing decisions. What a stupid biased article.

  2. FreddyFreak says:

    “But you can just sense things are about to unravel, can’t you?”

    I wonder why that is, Matt Jones. Maybe look at their upcoming fixture list…

    Everton @ Arsenal FA Cup
    Swansea @ Arsenal
    Arsenal @ Bayern Munich UEFA
    Arsenal @ Spurs
    Arsenal @ Chelsea
    Manchester City @ Arsenal
    Arsenal @ Everton

    It doesn’t hurt to add this information to your article. You don’t need to be a distinguished writer for WorldSoccerTalk or Bleacher to know that Arsenal are going to drop points after a fixture like this.

    Still sour about Arsenal advancing past Liverpool in the FA Cup? I don’t see how Ox “needlessly clattered Luis Suarez in the penalty area in the FA Cup fifth round tie” is a poor player decision 18 days later. 18 days after no penalty was called.

    The “poor decision” was made by the ref, Gooners will admit that much. Get over it.

    • Matt Jones says:

      Hi Freddy,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Perhaps in hindsight I should have included the fixture list, but I didn’t because it’s well documented and been done to death.

      I have absolutely no allegiances to Liverpool FC, quite the opposite in fact! The point about the Chamberlain challenge was that is was some rash play at a key point in the match, which could have cost Arsenal and how there have been similarly erratoc decisions which have cost them in subsequent games.



    • Take it easy says:

      Why would an Everton supporter be “sour over Arsenal advancing past Liverpool in the FA cup”?

      • CassanovaFrankenstein says:

        Not everyone worships Jones like you do, Take it easy.

        • Take it easy says:

          You got me! I guess since I can read and know the man supports Everton I worship him.

          Too funny. Are you really that simple?

          • CassanovaFrankenstein says:

            Yes. I am that simple.

          • Guy says:

            Nice one, Take it easy. I love it when posters jump to conclusions about what team we must back.

            A few weeks ago someone labelled me a Gooner after something I posted about Aresenal. As a Stoke fan I found that hilarious! :-D

  3. Nonsense says:

    When you allow the world class talent that is Nicklas Bendtner to languish on the bench you only have YOURSELF to blame!

  4. hoosiergunner says:

    Interesting read. As an Arsenal supporter I think there is always a sense of pessimism with which we approach the end of the season… agony should “it” arrive (albeit the “race” to qualify for top four the last couple seasons seems rather petty when you consider the plight of chronic mid-table and relegation-prone club supporters), and unfettered joy when “it” is avoided or overcome (fortunately for Arsenal this is the norm rather than the exception).

    This season has been a heartbreaker, but we could see “it” fairly early on this season (I argue when we could’t put the Everton game away)… injuries, slumps in form, unnecessary personal/familiar drama off the field, mishandled transfer seasons, I think the author does a nice job of recounting some if not all of our missteps. Also as the earlier commentator noted, we have the toughest schedule left for any of the top four teams… unfortunately I think we also got some false hope from a fairly easy beginning to the season, but the truth is that we couldn’t beat any of the “big” teams when called upon to do so; that tells me that we exactly where we should be for the season. No matter… hoping for the best, and thinking the next couple seasons it will finally come together.

  5. StroudGreenGunner says:

    Buying Ozil was like knowing you need an overcoat but buying a piece of jewelry instead. David Dein wouldn’t have let Arsene do it or make the irritating plus £1 bid for Suarez. He’d have made an offer Liverpool could not refuse. I continually get the impression that Arsene is simply too powerful at the Emirates. He needs a good friend whom he trusts and who challenges him.

  6. Soaring eagle says:

    What about absolutely no rotation of the squad. When Ramsey was fit, wenger kept playing him every game. Same with ozil…

  7. Ogban says:

    people like you whin about Ox’s penalty that was not given but say nothing about the very soft one that was given. You would have been glad if Arsenal lost or drew the match on the back of two penalties, wouldn’t you?

  8. supporter for life. says:

    Yes a penalty should have been given against the “OX” but if that had happened then Gerrard should not have been on the field to take it after he took the “OX” out and ought to have had his 2nd yellow, then a RED. Of course they would then have been down to 10 men for the final 15 minutes. We also have ref injustices.

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