Rarely have Arsenal fans had a to endure a season like this. In fact, this is the furthest behind the Premier League leaders the Gunners have been under Arsene Wenger at this stage of the season.
Nine games without a clean sheen in the league – their worst run since 2002, this is Arsenal’s lowest points tally in recent memory after 27 games…
Their home form in the league isn’t the problem. Having picked up 32 points from 13 games, they sit third in the Premier League home table, eight points off City who have played a game more.
It is however their away form which has stung Arsenal’s hope of a top four place this season. 13 points from 14 games on the road means they have the ninth most amount of points collected away from home this term.
In fact, Arsene Wenger’s men have collected just 26 points from their last 26 away league games. That’s staggering.
So… where has it all gone wrong, and why do the Gunners fail to pick up points away from the Emirates?
Arsenal lack a spine:
Let’s take it back to Arsenal’s invincibles. The best Premier League side ever in many people’s eyes…
Before the game kicked off, the opposition knew they faced an uphill battle in an attempt to win the game. Lehmann, Campbell, Toure, Vieira, Silva, Henry provided the North London side with a dominant spine – one that clubs repeatedly failed to crack, but it’s Wenger who has failed in repeatedly trying to replace the departed.
The question of who will one day fill the void left by these man mountains, is still unanswered. The likes of Arteta, Cazorla, Coquelin, Diaby, Song, Flamini have all tried to cement themselves in that centre spot, but to no avail.
“One of the reasons that Arsenal struggle so badly away from home is that centre of the park, they really lack somebody who can recycle possession and help us take a firm grip of the game.
“Especially in front of a quite fragile back four. That’s been the issue, Arsenal haven’t been able to control the central midfield in away games.”
- Adrian Clarke (Broadcaster & Arsenal Fan)
Their current holding players, Xhaka and Elneny, can pass the ball well (sideways a lot of the time) and provide the odd world-class strike, but when it comes to winning possession and creating an extra defensive layer, they’re worlds apart from Arsenal’s Invincible midfield.
When you possess box-to-box players in your team, who can dominate the midfield area, you can win ugly, grind out results away from home and leave the easy-on-the-eye stuff to your home patch. The current Arsenal side don’t have the ability to adapt in that way way and are suffering on the road.
Away from home is where you are really tested. In a 38-game season, these are the games you have to win in order to earn your right to be called a Premier League champion – The so called smaller clubs will welcome you to their own patch, and believe they can claim you as a scalp. Arsenal are by far the most vulnerable-looking side away from home.
Arsenal have lost seven and won just three of their away games in the league so far this term.
The likes of Ozil, who shine at home, delivering scintillating performances, seem to disappear when the Gunners play away from the Emirates. Jamie Carragher labelled the Arsenal players ‘cowards’ after an away defeat to Crystal Palace last season…the stats suddenly suggest the Arsenal players don’t possess enough fight and perhaps back up Carragher’s claims.
“It’s difficult to explain. You expect Arsenal to have a good record at home, you don’t expect Arsenal to get that many points away from home. It’s very low. We won the league twice unbeaten away from home.”
- Thierry Henry
“26 points from 26 away games is an embarrassment for a team that are supposedly one of the top teams in the country.”
- Jamie Carragher
Is Arsene Wenger Living in the Past?
There’s no doubt Wenger engineered something brilliant in his early years at Arsenal but as we said earlier, his team was built on a solid spine with a key balance between defence and attack. This side had power, pace and prolific finishers – a far cry from today’s starting XI.
“Look, if you look at my record, you will see I played two years in the Premier League without losing a game away from home,”
However, in the last decade Arsenal have lacked balance and bite in both defence and the centre of midfield – Has Arsene Wenger been naive to think he can employ his system with anyone?
“The pitch is 105 metres long and 68 metres wide, everywhere, and never in my life I could accept or understand that it’s different away from home. It’s just a question of how much you want it, it’s about football.”
Arsene Wenger’s naivety, putting trust in the likes of Granit Xhaka (who refuses to see the bigger picture, passing sideways the majority of the time) and before him, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Song – the list continues, has bitten him in the backside.
But the simple answer is this bunch of Arsenal players aren’t good enough. Put them up against Manchester City, not one of those Arsenal players would make it into the City starting XI. And then you put them up against United, Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool, I wouldn’t back Arsenal against any of those sides at the moment. Failure to buy a demanding CB/CM in the January window was slapdash, but expected following Arsenal’s previous windows. It’s a mixture of mentality and Wenger’s naivety that have culminated in this mess. And unless things change at the top, it’s set to continue until the Frenchman departs North London.