Arsenal are beginning to make late comebacks their own, in the same way that Manchester United became renowned for stealing results in injury time when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge. On one hand, it shows great resolve and character because the team do not know when they’re beaten. However, the fact that it’s nearly November and our performances continue to be so bad that we have to keep relying on late goals to salvage the points is quite alarming. This past week has not been bad in hindsight, as we have come away from three matches without losing, but the manner in which we have played tells a completely different story
The opening 17 minutes of the match against Hull City was very promising. Arsenal had come out of the blocks quickly and were obviously desperate to make a mends for the defeat at Stamford Bridge before the international break. Alexis Sanchez soon put the home side 1-0 up and it surely was only a matter of time until the lead was increased. That wasn’t the case though as Diame equalized (with a rather questionable goal) and the Gunners capitulated from there on in. Soon after the break, the Tigers went 2-1 up and it took the rest of the half for Danny Welbeck to steal the point.
If the Hull game was a light robbery, then what happened last Wednesday evening was a complete smash and grab. It was by far the worst Arsenal performance of the season to date yet we still managed to win. How did that happen? Perhaps it was because I had made the trip to Brussels (lucky European charm)? Or maybe it was a perfectly timed Kieran Gibbs volley and Lukas Podolski’s lethal left foot in a crazy end to the match? Joking aside, we were plain awful and probably should have lost 3-0.
Sunderland on Saturday was another underwhelming and disappointing display but again, somehow we managed to leave the Stadium of Light with all three points. The Black Cats looked like a team who had been beaten 8-0 the previous week and were totally bereft of confidence, especially in defence. If the Arsenal team had put their mind to it, they probably could have ran away with it. Instead of an easy game, we never left first gear and treated it like a training session. Our two goals only came from mistakes so it was more of a mugging this time as opposed to robbery.
It is quite clear that our performances have been below par and I cannot argue that we would have been very lucky to leave Brussels with a point, let alone grabbing a late winner. However, there is at least one obvious positive to be taken from the past two results which perhaps could act as the turning point of our season. For the first time in this campaign, Arsenal have secured back-to-back victories. Hopefully the two away wins can be the start of a streak because our main problem in recent months has been an overall lack of consistency.
Up until now, we have failed to build on positive results. The late win against Crystal Palace on the opening day was followed by an excruciatingly dull 0-0 draw out in Turkey. A week later, Arsenal secured Champions League football for an incredible 17th year in a row but were soon brought down to earth with a bump when new boys Leicester City held them to a draw. The next victory was a comfortable 3-0 up at Villa Park but the euphoria didn’t last long as Southampton soon dumped us out of the Capital One Cup.
Our most impressive win to date was when we demolished Galatasaray 4-1 in a game where Arsenal could’ve and should’ve hit double figures. Again, a disappointing and some might say inevitable 2-0 loss at Chelsea a few days later showed that the triumph in the CL was a one-off. The win out in Anderlecht last week followed by the 2-0 up at Sunderland might be the start of a decent period where we can kick on and continue to grow in confidence. Then again, Burnley could make this whole post irrelevant so I won’t hold my breath. Football is just so unpredictable.
By Glen Shorey