Arsenal FC: Arsene Wenger's Men Simply Aren't a Title-Caliber Team

Andrew JeromskiContributor IIIApril 21, 2011

Oof. Break out the Maalox.
Oof. Break out the Maalox.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Does anyone want to win the Premier League this season?

It would seem Arsenal don’t really care. Sir Alex’s Manchester United men don’t exactly look hungry for it, either.

The two teams look like they are battling it out to see who can give it away faster.

United has missed several chances to put the league crown out of reach this year, while the Gunners have seemingly squandered every door left open by their rivals from the North. Honestly, Chelsea fans must be feel like theirs is a team of destiny. Carlo Ancelotti must think he has a friend at the Vatican.

While United has simply looked lethargic and apathetic at times, the same can be said about Arsenal’s defenders. Especially the last two games.

A total of four, four, critical points were left on the table by Wenger’s men this past week. In large part due to two horrific defensive gaffes.

Indeed, no firm on earth would insure a one-goal lead for the Gunners right now. Especially not after the 70th minute.

First it was against Liverpool at the Emirates. It’s still tough to talk about. After RvP’s late penalty looked like a sure winner, an inexplicably over-zealous Emmanuel Eboue bowled over Lucas Leiva far to the right of Szczesny, and Dirk Kuyt buried the ball 12 minutes into stoppage time. Jay Spearing hauled down Cesc Fabregas in the 98th minute to set the stage for van Persie. 

All Eboue needed to do was stand there. It is unlikely that Lucas would have been able to produce a chance from such an acute angle, and the whistle was surely moments away from sounding.

All that being said, it remains a less than convincing penalty call, but one must fault Eboue for putting himself in such a ridiculous position so late in such a critical match. Otherwise, he played a good match, as did the rest of the squad. They created chances and suffered a bit of bad luck, but they should have won.

So Sir Alex and Manchester United were left with a golden chance to slam the title door on the Gunners’ toes against Newcastle away. They didn’t want to do it either, struggling to a lackluster draw.

With renewed vigor, or so one would think, Arsene Wenger and company headed to White Hart Lane for the second half of the annual North London Derby with a chance to climb right back into the race for the crown.

For most of the game it looked like they had found their stride once again. They were in control and led 3-1 at one point after halftime.

Then it was 3-2.

Now, it’s time to start sweating bullets.

For whatever reason, Arsenal seem to lose their composure late in close games. At first glance, it’s tempting to blame such things on the youth of the team. That’s not entirely the case, however, as both Eboue and the perpetrator at Spurs, Bacary Sagna, are seasoned veterans and no strangers to big moments.

Sagna’s crime was one of absence, as when Aaron Lennon marauded down the right side, the french back was nowhere to be found, leaving Szczesny little choice other than coming out to confront Lennon, leading to the penalty that tied the score.

It’s maddening. 

Chelsea hopped over the Gunners into third place in the table and must feel rather fortunate to have done so. 

With all the trouble swirling around Wenger’s head right now, it would seem that any more talk of a title this season is just so much pie in the sky. Even if they were to gut out a win against Man. U., more likely than not they would only end up drawing with Villa or something like that.

For me, the bottom line is this: A team that commits two errors so egregious in nature at such critical moments in a title chase has little business being in one in the first place.

To borrow a phrase from my hometown Boston Red Sox: Wait until next year.

Sure a beleaguered and besieged Arsene Wenger claimed that the league was still within reach following the Spurs draw, but nobody’s really listening anymore. He has to think that. We can afford to be a bit more pragmatic.

Let the transfer season begin.