I am sure that I am not the only Arsenal fan that is just about fed up of hearing one of the Arsenal players or the boss talking about team spirit, solidarity, bouncing back and sticking together. That is the sort of thing we are always being told but there is precious little evidence of it on the pitch.
We would not mind hearing about how the Arsenal team were going to fight until the end if the very next time they had a chance to prove it we were not subjected to another lacklustre and insipid showing from our players. In fact, I have now started to look at these chest thumping statements as actually proving a lack of what the players are saying rather than the opposite.
So when I read on Sky Sports the words of Per Mertesacker ahead of this evening’s crucial home game against West Brom I could not help but groan inwardly. The German spoke about proving people wrong and seizing the opportunity that is left for Arsenal this season, by taking the full 15 points still available from the final five games.
Our defender did at least admit that the team was hugely disappointed to have missed the chances on offer throughout the season so far, but the rest of his comments sounded like just more empty platitudes to me, the sort of thing he thinks he should be saying rather than the truth, that the Gunners are in a bad way and are starting to really worry about losing our place in the top four.
Mertesacker replied to whether Arsenal would respond to criticism, “Certainly. It has never been different. There have always been rumours and always been criticism, but the group is always strongest when we stick to each other.
“We went through a difficult period in my time at Arsenal in these years, and we always came back stronger. The one thing we missed out was to be consistent over the season.
“That is a criticism we have to face and I have no doubt the group will grow, even when everyone expected us to win something this year.
“I think as long as the team is still hungry, still wants to go for it, that’s going to be the key. As long as we keep that, we have the opportunity to get 15 points out of the five games. Then let’s see what the outcome is.
“We are team that likes to play forward, likes to play an offensive style. We like to play to keep ourselves in positions where we get into the next attack, but we have to be more cautious about coming back and being behind the ball together.
“We missed a lot of chances. We’ve had a lot of opportunities throughout this season to be in a better position.
“Those are regrets we do have, but still it’s very difficult to look back at the minute and think, ‘we were in top spot’. We just have to go for it now, there is no other solution for us.”
Play well and beat West Brom tonight and I will be happy to listen to Per or any of his Arsenal team mates talk about this sort of thing. But do you agree they should keep this sort of thing down before a match, especially after the last showing against Crystal Palace?