The one positive to Arsenal’s unbeaten run ending is it can no longer paper over the cracks. Our sequence of results seemed to make Unai Emery immune from any criticism, with some gooners feeling he hasn’t had enough credit from the media. That could be because, rewind to the summer and most pundits predicted we would be in a battle for the top 4, as our 22-game streak ends we find ourselves …. 5th, not good enough for Arsenal fans under the man he replaced.
The statistic of never leading at half time in the Premier League this season has been a fun one. If you’re not defeated after 90 minutes, it’s one you can dismiss. Indeed, it is evidence of an improved mentality, the players not feeling sorry for themselves after 45 mins. Some have even used it as a further stick to beat Arsene Wenger with, the Frenchmen apparently would never make a sub so early in a game. Yet surely if you’re having to make changes at the interval it suggests there was something wrong with your original plan?
Now that we have lost to a side who were bottom of the League, Arsenal being slow starters suddenly feels like a bigger deal. The performance at Southampton mirrors the majority of our games under the Spaniard, the opposition not always punishing us. Fulham, Liverpool and Spurs are the only fixtures I can think of where we were consistent for the whole 90. Winning when not playing well is perfect as long as you are learning from your mistakes. According to the law of averages, you are not going to keep getting away with taking half a match to get going. Now, our boss will be under more scrutiny to find the answer of why his men can’t start well.
To get to the halfway point of the league and not have led at half-time has to reflect our attitude. Gooners can’t have it both ways.
Many have weekly used our unbeaten run as a blanket for Unai Emery, a parachute protecting him from being questioned. Weekly, people are making comparisons between Emery and Arsene Wenger yet it’s unfair to not do it when he makes mistakes. Did we need a back five today? I thought that was a system only introduced to bring out the best in Kolasinac who was injured? Do you need two DM in front of a back 5 at the home of a side with 1 win?
Are we still going to pretend that in the final third Iwobi is a replacement for Ramsey and Ozil?
If Arsene Wenger had started 7 defensive players, carried on playing a winger who’s assist record is poor, and couldn’t get his players to start games better, would we complain? If Arsene Wenger was 5th?
Finally, we can ask these questions…