— FanSided Soccer (@FanSidedSoccer) October 27, 2017
Image Source: FanSided Soccer via Twitter
We’re barely into November and any remaining hopes of Arsenal jostling for the Premier League title are fading fast. The 3-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City was hardly surprising, especially with Guardiola’s side ploughing through every rival they face, but the critics are still keen to dissect every decision that Arsene Wenger makes and every team performance that accompanies those decisions.
The most vocal critic, unsurprisingly, was Martin Keown via his regular Daily Mail column, and the former Gunners defender didn’t mince his words after the result against City. The leading point for Keown was the belief that, although Arsenal focused on trying to nullify City’s dominance of play, they did so at the expense of their own creativity.
Sacrificing their own effectiveness in the final third was a mistake by Wenger, according to Keown, who insists that Jack Wilshere could have provided the service Arsenal were lacking going forward, whilst also suggesting that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were little more than dead weight for their side.
It’s time to look beyond the two contract rebels, in his view, unless they put pen to paper on new deals and show commitment to the cause.
The latter was a point which Emmanuel Petit chose to focus on, highlighting what he believes to be a lack of motivation. “When the chips are down, several of them keep going missing,” suggested the Frenchman in a Metro article dissecting the latest Arsenal defeat. He also felt Wenger had sent out the wrong message to his players, adopting a more defensive approach to start the game.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 5, 2017
Image Source: Arsenal FC via Twitter
After the loss against Manchester City, the Premier League betting clearly favours Guardiola’s unbeatable side at 1/6 for the title, whilst Arsenal’s odds have lengthened significantly to 80/1 and essentially, they’re considered to be out of the race now. However, the team must continue to push for a finish amongst the Champions League positions, having already missed out last season after finishing a disappointing fifth.
To do that, a clear signal of intent must be shown in the next game Arsenal play, because it’s none other than the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. Wenger has the international break to ponder his approach to the game and there will be no margins for error because, after falling short against the best team in the land right now, Pochettino’s side will be no less forgiving if the Gunners are an ounce below par.
Spurs might have dropped their beat a little in the EFL Cup and Premier League of late, but they’re still riding high in the title race and, after spectacularly defeating Real Madrid in the Champions League, Arsenal will need to be at their absolute best to get the three points at the Emirates Stadium.
A priceless win against Tottenham might, for the time being at least, silence the critics and restore some belief in Wenger’s side. But he will need to choose his options very carefully ahead of the game, ensuring that every player is 100% fired up to get the result they need. Otherwise, don’t be surprised to see Keown, Petit, and every other critic who cares to voice an opinion, out to twist the knife just a little bit more.