Can Arsenal rediscover the magic?

Over recent years, Arsenal have become renowned for their eye-catching, free-flowing football which makes them so dangerous for any opponent, but they have recently lost their fear factor within a stuttering start to the 2014/2015 season. The devastating 3-0 victory at Aston Villa is the only performance that stands out from a sequence of performances in which Arsene Wenger’s men have played within themselves and struggled to enjoy any sort of control. Victory at Sunderland was secured by two awful back passes which were capitalised upon by Alexis Sanchez, but Arsenal were nowhere near their best. It is often said that the best teams manage to pick up results even when they are not playing well, but the performance in Anderlecht, despite picking up a really undeserved three points, symbolised a team who lack a real cutting edge and confidence to impose themselves. Arsenal are often well backed on due to the quality they possess throughout the squad, but Wenger and the players themselves must improve if the Gunners are to enjoy any sort of success this season.

Premier League

Winning the FA Cup last season may have lifted an element of pressure off Wenger’s shoulders to win Arsenal’s first Premier League title since 2004, but they already find themselves 9 points behind current leaders Chelsea after just 9 games. With the Premier League already shaping up to be one of the most close-fought domestic leagues in Europe, it is down to Arsenal to show the quality that has helped them secure at least a Champions League spot in every single season since Wenger took over as manager in 1996. Drawing 5 games may illustrate where the current problems lie; although a wonderful fight back at Everton to come from 2-0 behind showed Arsenal’s ability to handle pressure, they let the lead slip against Manchester City and Leicester, while had to claw back deficits against Tottenham and Hull.

No disrespect to Leicester and Hull, but Arsenal should consider those results as two points dropped and wonderful opportunities to keep up at the top wasted. The upcoming fixture at the Emirates against struggling Burnley may be the perfect tonic the Gunners need to reboot their season, and rediscover the form and confidence that makes them so formidable. They may need a shot in the arm as the next four games should really test Arsenal’s resolve; a trip to Swansea before the international break will not be easy, but Arsenal’s international stars will return to duty to face Manchester United on home soil, followed by West Brom away and high-flying Southampton in North London. Those four fixtures should provide a true indication as to what Arsenal may expect to achieve in 2014/2015, but there needs to be a marked improvement in performance levels if the Gunners are to compete for the title.

Champions League

Being drawn in Group D alongside Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht may not have been the easiest draw Arsenal could have received, but it placed significant emphasis on the Gunners to show true quality that would make other teams across Europe sit up and take notice. The highly disappointing 2-0 defeat in Dortmund was the worst possible start, but subsequent victories against a struggling Galatasaray side and plucky Belgian champions Anderlecht have put Arsenal in an excellent position to qualify for the knock-out stages. Victory against Anderlecht in the return fixture at the Emirates may all but secure Arsenal’s passage to the next round, but they may be forever grateful for arguably the most undeserved three points in Champions League history. Anderlecht dominated the game from start to finish but wasted several chances against an Arsenal team that looked a distinct shadow of their true selves, yet somehow managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with two late goals. The performance may prove immaterial if Arsenal manage to secure their passage to the next round in Week 4, but elite clubs across Europe will have noted Arsenal’s struggles away from the Emirates against teams who are more than willing to meet fire with fire, and pose their own attacking threat.


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