Apart from at the start of the season when Arsenal took just one point from the first two games, there has not been too much talk about the problems facing Arsene Wenger and his team and the reasons why we always seem to blow it, whether that is having a poor run of games in the Premier League that sees a title challenge falter or just failing to win the Champions League group and going out on away goals in the first knockout stage.
After the recent run from Arsenal, however, which has predictably enough come in the testy month of November, the questions are being raised again. While some will point to bad luck, as it is those pesky away goals that look like costing us top spot in Europe to PSG, and some will point to the injury problems keeping key players like Cazorla and Bellerin out of the team, our former striker Alan Smith has another theory.
Smith knows what it is like to be under great pressure to win the title as it was 18 years since Arsenal had been champions and it looked like we had blown a great chance when we went to Liverpool on the last day needing to win by two goals, but he scored the first and then Michael Thomas scored late on to secure the title, as immortalised in the file Fever Pitch.
He reckons that the current Arsenal side are being held back by a mental barrier and until the boss and the players find a way to get around it then those major trophy goals of the Premier League and Champions League are going to keep eluding us, a Sky Sports report explains.
He said, “There’s never going to be a full-blown crisis at Arsenal because they’ve got too many players to win games and stay at a level, as in top four. But it’s going that extra step.
“And we were hoping this year that they can go that extra step, but it’s that mental approach, that psychological barrier that prevents them from doing that.
“Things aren’t going to be any better in the Champions League this season, they’re not going to win it, and I don’t think they’re going to win the league, so they’re in a very similar position to what they have been in recent seasons.
“It’s not a disaster to finish second to PSG, I think we’ve got to get that right, because PSG are a very good side and they showed that last night at the Emirates.
“Arsenal have got history of finishing second and suffering. They’re not in the best of form, the Manchester United performance was shockingly poor in many ways.
“They didn’t turn up. Why? Wenger said afterwards: ‘Have my players got a mental block about playing at Old Trafford?’
“I mean if the manager is thinking that then you have got problems. There is something still missing.”
Is Smith right about Arsenal’s problems being in the mind? And what can be done to sort it out?