Over the past few seasons, no matter how bad Arsenal’s results were, the Gunners’ faithful were at least able to console themselves with the beautiful football they were playing – until now.
Taking their weekend defeat against Swansea City as the starting point, they look bereft of ideas in the final third and the pace that used to ooze through their attacks is becoming increasingly rare.
Steve Bruce once said the best thing to do when you won a corner against Arsenal was to kick the ball out for a goal kick. They counter-attacked with such speed and efficiency that a corner amounted to a disadvantage.
Arsenal regularly now look ponderous in possession and, with the movement of Olivier Giroud hardly being of Thierry Henry or Robin van Persie standards, they often end up playing the ball sideways or backwards (obviously keeping the ball is no bad thing but rather too often they appear reluctant to take a risk with a pass in the final third).
Arsene Wenger has blamed tiredness on their recent poor performances and certainly early season star Santi Cazorla appears to be struggling, but the lack of pace to Arsenal’s attacks is becoming increasingly worrying.
Their inability to utilise the pace of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also bizarre. All too rarely against Swansea – who had the 19-year-old Ben Davis at left-back did Walcott run at his man and get beyond him.
Admittedly, Arsenal have Jack Wilshere and 32-year-old Tomas Rosicky coming back from injury but it will take more than their influence to inject a sense of urgency into a team who appears to value possession only slightly less importantly than Brendan Rodgers.
The chants of ‘we want our Arsenal back’ echoed around the half-empty Emirates at the final whistle last Saturday and, if they’re talking about the Arsenal that used to attack with pace and purpose, then that’s a sentiment that surely every football fan would share.