Arsenal: Should Arsenal Be Concerned About Current Performances?
After another loss in the English Premier League and another match where they were completely outclassed by their opponents, is it time that Arsenal started to worry about their current performances and where their team is headed?
The 15 points that the Gunners have through their opening 10 matches is the worst start that they've had since Arsene Wenger took over as manager, according to Opta Sports. With no end in sight to the apparent slump, is it panic time at the Emirates?
Granted, the North London club have had some notably tough fixtures already this season: Manchester City away, Chelsea at home, Liverpool away and, most recently, Manchester United at Old Trafford—a fixture where they were beaten 8-2 last season.
And that's when they had Robin van Persie.
It's true that Arsenal haven't had the easiest schedule through the opening six weeks, but that's still no excuse for their lack of direction and purpose this season.
They have had possession of the ball for longer than any other team in the Premier League this year but simply haven't been able to covert that into goals scored and competition points. Sure, they've scored 15 goals for the season, which isn't at all to be sneezed at, but when you take out their 6-1 win over Southampton and their 3-1 win over West Ham, suddenly this is a team that has only scored six goals in eight matches this season.
Their most recent Champions League match against Schalke—which was played at the Emirates, mind you—saw the home side finish without a single shot on target. Their most recent Premier League match saw them take until stoppage time to record a shot on target—albeit a fantastic strike and goal from midfield maestro Santi Cazorla.
It is indisputable that the Gunners are struggling, and they aren't playing their best football—or anything really close to their best football at the moment.
We're very far behind now. At the moment, you cannot say that [we are good enough to challenge the top three] because we are far away. That's what we have to show, and that's what the target is at the end of the season.
We were poor defensively here. There's no obvious reason for that, apart from the fact we didn't start well and United have quality up front.
They score goals against everybody and are better than us. It's as simple as that. Here, I just think we were not on full cylinders and looked much more vulnerable...
It's probably fair also to concede that Arsenal have had more than their fair share of injuries to counteract so far this season, with their first and second string goalkeepers absent for significant periods of time as well as key defensive players.
Midfielders Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Jack Wilshere have all missed time as well—giving Wenger few alternatives to shake up his starting side and tactics when he would no doubt like to.
Yet at the same time, every side in the Premier League and the Champions League goes without key players—which means that the Gunners really don't have much of an excuse for their poor performances of late other than they fact they simply weren't good enough.
So, we come back to the original question.
Should the Gunners be concerned about their current performances?
Is being nine points off the pace through the opening quarter of the year reason for panic and questioning? Are wholesale changes required in the upcoming winter transfer window to ensure the stability and attacking depth of the squad?
Should Arsenal be worried about this season?
The answer, like most answers, is both yes and no.
We've already looked at the problems currently existent at the Emirates—both in attack and defense—and have wondered they are truly capable of competing with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City this season.
So in that aspect, yes, the Gunners should be concerned.
But at the same time, we must recognize that despite the injuries, scheduling difficulties and a host of other problems, Arsenal are nowhere near dead and buried this year.
Their attack has still led them to 15 goals in the Premier League, and we know, from watching them fight back to record a 7-5 victory against Reading last week, that this is a team that can score goals without their best players and in less than ideal circumstances.
Their defense, despite its long injury list, is still the top ranked in the English competition, and still contained a rampant Manchester United side to just two goals at Old Trafford—despite all the attacking opportunities and possession that they had.
Arsenal are still in the Capital One Cup—something that Manchester United, Manchester City and defending champions Liverpool cannot attest to—and they are still in the UEFA Champions League, with a great chance of qualifying through to the knockout rounds of the competition.
Again, something that both City and Liverpool cannot say for themselves.
Their squad is depleted, and their new signings will take more than 10 weeks to gel together into a strong and cohesive Gunners side that many expected this year.
Olivier Giroud will take longer than 10 weeks to become a dominant striker; Jack Wilshere will take longer than two weeks to become their general in midfield once more. Arsenal, as a team, will take longer than they time they have currently had to effective perform at their highest this year.
The North London club have lost some huge players in recent years. The most recent, Robin van Persie, has to bring some sort of effect with it, for you simply cannot lose a star like Van Persie and expect not to miss him or be able to replace him immediately.
Arsenal need to be given time—by both their fans the media alike—to continue to grow this year under realistic yet hopeful expectations.
Because, at the end of the day, Wenger is right in what he says. The Gunners are a long way off where City, Chelsea and United are currently at.
That's no reason for panic, and it's certainly no reason for the Arsenal to be too concerned with their current performances.
They should be worried about the shirt-swapping at half time by Andre Santos and the fact that Jack Wilshere waved to the crowd after being sent-off with his team down 2-0—both of those things should cause Gunners fans to worry about their club.
Are you concerned about Arsenal's start this year?
That's a reflection on their culture, and that's something that has to be set right before any talk of resurrecting a season can begin to occur.
Arsenal have their problems, sure, but so does every club in the English Premier League this year. They will all face different tests and problems if they have not done so already, and the Gunners might well be left without any choice but to concede this season as another title-less year.
But with one of the strongest defenses in the league, a dynamic young midfield led by some tremendously skilled players and an attack that hasn't even begun to reach it's potential—all with the veteran experience of Arsene Wenger—there truly is very little to worry about for Arsenal.
Even if they don't break their title drought this season.
What do you make of Arsenal's current performances this year?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre
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