A 3-1 loss at the Britannia to relegation contenders Stoke City. The last few games of the season, bar last week’s surprising upset over Manchester United, are becoming a trying affair.
So where, Barriecuda? Where are you getting this “small victory” business from? Well, seeing Aaron Ramsey start at the ground where he was brutally chopped down in February 2010 was a great step forward for both him and the club. Ramsey is a great young talent and will certainly be one of our big stars of future-Arsenal. For some time, I have dreamed of a dominant midfield duo of Ramsey and Wilshere each leading the team in the mould of Steven Gerrard – taking long shots, getting stuck in, setting up plays, inspiring those around them (yes, I am a Stevie G’ fan). Seeing AR16 starting was a great opportunity for him to exercise some demons and move forward as both a player and a future star of the club, and that I consider a small victory amongst a sea of misery.
But that consolation aside, today’s game was another failing effort from a group of players who look absolutely lost. It’s the same old Arsenal story. Majority possession, spurned chances, hit against the run of play on a set piece due to comical defending, rarely looking as if they’ll get back in the game until late. That would of course explain 2-1, but what is added to the usual story today was even after we got a somewhat-soft first goal, we conceded sloppily seconds later. It is difficult to discuss without being monotonous because it is brought up week after week – our defending is inadequate and a lot of our players seem to lack the heart to want to win… or even to keep a lead. I suppose that comes naturally when you’ve lost the title race, but I could be a lot more forgiving if it hadn’t been the case for the last few weeks (/months).
Along with the 3-1 reverse, it’s a defeat for the fans who continue to be disappointed by a team that costs the most in the country to watch. Arsenal fans should not have to debate watching a game because it’s only going to depress them further, watching a deflated team play to another no-longer-surprising draw or loss. One of the biggest aspect of Arsenal as a club is that it has always been a team that stood for ‘never say die’, a team that would fight tooth-and-nail for 90 minutes. In recent years, the club is starting to lose that factor; a fact so dreadful it should be called blasphemy. I’ll support a team through thick-and-thin, that’s just my nature. But at the same time I expect them to look like they care even if the game – or season – is going against them. I’m sure they “care”, but if it’s not enough to be visibly obvious then it’s tough to accept, especially when its under the crest of a team synonomous with workmanship.
Hopefully Arsene & Co can do something to alleviate my fears of the club’s deterioration with some good results to finish the season.