What is Going on at Arsenal?

    06 Apr 2021 | Premier League | Opinion
    What is Going on at Arsenal?
    Eakwiphan Smitabhindhu / Shutterstock

    At the beginning of the 2020/21 English Premier League season, there was great optimism surrounding Arsenal Football Club.

    The previous campaign ended in style with a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final and an 8th place finish in the Premier League on which to build for the current season.

    However, having played 30 matches of the 2020/21 league season, Arsenal find themselves in 9th place, with 42 points to their name.

    It appears increasingly unlikely they are going to qualify for European football via their league position and The Gunners are relying on their progress in the Europa League to play in the Champions League next season.

    The most recent performance in the Premier League, at home to Liverpool, was perhaps the lowest point of the season to date for Arsenal. Against a Liverpool team who have been struggling this season without their first choice central defenders, Arsenal made the defending champions look like they were at their peak.

    Liverpool played well but Arsenal were hugely disappointing and nowhere near the standard required to finish in the top four.

    Mikel Arteta could not hide his disappointment after the final whistle and said, “Today was a big shock in the system," before adding. "At the moment I'm in shock because I didn't expect that. For sure we cannot hit that level again.

    To represent this football club and people who love this club, that was not acceptable. You have to stand up and take the challenge. It's my job to make things better. Today we hit a really low level.”

    The body language from Arsenal's players was dreadful, it was as if they had no idea or belief in the game plan set out by the manager. There was an extreme lack of urgency throughout the 90 minutes and every player was poor in that department.

    There have been several occasions this season when Arsenal have given the ball away when passing it around at the back and it haunted them again in the loss against Liverpool.

    Looking at their remaining Premier League fixtures and Arsenal have a favourable run-in, with only Everton and Chelsea above them in the table at time of the writing.

    With upcoming matches against Sheffield United, Fulham, Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, and Brighton, there are plenty of winnable games for The Gunners, which would see them move up the table.

    However, unless Arsenal significantly raise the level of not only their performance but their desire on the pitch, there is a risk they could fall further down the league.

    There is a possibility Arsenal could finish in the bottom half of the table and you must go back to the 1994/95 season to find the last time that happened.

    It is difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the poor performance against Liverpool. Was it a lack of belief in the tactics, meaning the players do not believe in the manager?

    Or was it a case of having one eye on the match against Slavia Prague on Thursday? Neither is acceptable but if it is the former, Arsenal have a major issue.