Despite Arsenal being the most consistent team in Europe in the whole of 2015, The Gunner’s form deteriorated badly after the New Year and they have now dropped to 11 points behind Leicester with just 8 games to go, as well as exiting from both the FA Cup and Champions League in the space of 4 days.
With official captain Mikel Arteta only managing cameos for Arsenal this season, and Per Mertesacker relegated to the bench recently, it was left to Laurent Koscielny to marshall the defence and the team against Everton yesterday. He was obviously happy that the Gunners finally got their first League win for a month, but just as importantly we kept a clean sheet despite being up against one of the Premiership’s most in-form striker Romelu Lukaku.
Arsenal had an excellent start to the season, and by the New Year after winning five games out of six they were right behind Leicester and looking like hot favourites to open up a gap on the chasing pack. Then in January the Gunners collapse began. Liverpool gained a last minute draw, Stoke held us to 0-0 and then Chelsea took all three points (as usual) but Arsenal were still in the title race due to our rivals also dropping points right, left and centre.
I am not trying to absolve Arsene Wenger of all the blame for what looks like being a most frustrating Premier League title challenge for Arsenal this season, as the unfancied Leicester seem to be the ones that will make the most of the poor performances of the usual suspects Man City, Chelsea and Man United, but you have to admit that the Frenchman has had some pretty rotten luck with injury problems once again, while Claudio Ranieri has been able to name his strongest 11 players in almost every match.
Strangely enough, Arsenal finally have a good day for our strikers with both Giroud and Walcott scoring twice each, but despite our clean sheet our defence now has even bigger problems for the crucial Premiership run-in.
Arsenal are on their worst losing run for six years with back to back defeats against Barcelona, Man United and now Swansea, all in the space of eight miserable days. This is supposed to be the time of the season when Wenger gets all his injured players back and everyone is on form, and the team goes on a scintillating run to finish in the top four.
If Arsenal fans were looking for any help as the struggling Gunners aim to get our Premier League title challenge going again, perhaps you will see the fact that Swansea City will be without their manager Francesco Guidolin as a good omen. He is not seriously ill but has been taken in with a chest infection.
Arsene Wenger mentioned the lack of fluency in English of the Arsenal and Brazil international defender Gabriel again this week, reported by the Evening Standard, after the centre back was widely lambasted in the football press for his part in the two goals of the young Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.