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Sunday 28 February 2016

No Heart, No Guts.....No Glory!

Theatre of our worst nightmares
If the Gunners’ pale imitation of genuine Premiership contenders over the past few months left me doubting our ability to go on and win the title, it felt as if Sunday’s defeat at Old Trafford was the kicker!

We travelled to Manchester with plenty of trepidation, at the prospect of a potential hangover from Tuesday night’s disappointment. Not that I was actually expecting an out of sorts Arsenal side to beat possibly the best team on the planet, but I was left seriously dejected following our defeat to Barca, with Messi’s second goal demolishing my faint hopes of us travelling to Catalonia in three weeks time with the tie still in the balance.

Sadly the team seemed to be equally deflated, as the Gunners simply weren’t at the races on Sunday. Journeying up to the North-West with their man-bags bulging with fancy smelling toiletries, it was so depressing that they couldn’t find room for just a little more heart.

When I looked at LVG’s line-up prior to kick-off, with Martial joining Utd’s long list of walking wounded and with Carrick and Blind as makeshift centre-backs, I thought that if ever there was an opportunity for us to break our decade long league duck at Old Trafford, this was it.

However, instead of seizing upon a prime opportunity to impose our superior ability upon this game and put Man Utd’s wounded lion out of it’s misery, the Arsenal seemed to arrogantly expect our hosts to stand there and watch us walk the ball into the back of the net.

Aside from Monreal lacking a finisher’s composure to make the most of a golden opportunity in the opening moments and Man Utd going to sleep for Özil’s set-piece and gifting us a route back into this game at the end of the first-half, De Gea barely had anything to do for the first forty-five minutes.

Listening to the commentary of events at White Hart Lane on my radio earpiece, it was of some slight consolation that Spurs were also losing. Yet unlike us, it sounded as if they were positively pummeling the Swans goal, in their efforts to turn this game around and we only had the goalkeeping feats of Flappy-handski to thank for thwarting the old enemy. By contrast, even the shock of conceding two quick goals couldn’t stir us from our insipid, lacklustre failure to put Man Utd’s goal under any real pressure.

With Giroud suffering from an eight game goal drought, I can understand Arsène wanting to shake things up. Yet while Welbeck and Alexis ran around a lot, none of our intricate passing moves were coming off and the thoroughly useless appendage of Theo Walcott was so anonymous that I almost forgot that he was out there.

In spite of the glimmer of hope offered by Welbeck’s goal just before the break, I remained pessimistic. I sat there at half-time knowing full well that this Arsenal side lacks character, the sort of leadership and personality of someone to stand up in the dressing room and demand “this ain’t gonna happen”.

So while Spurs continued to demonstrate their credentials, by dragging themselves back in front against Swansea and maintaining the pressure upon Leicester, even with the introduction of Giroud, the Gunners never really looked capable of turning up the heat sufficiently to rescue all three points. In fact, as the game wore on, we looked more in danger of being hit by another sucker punch and Herrera duly obliged.

With the Premiership’s penchant for late drama, in the past I would’ve never quite given up the ghost of getting something out if this game. Yet even after Özil snatched a second, it felt as if we might perhaps get lucky a nick a draw, but there was never any sense of the Gunners having the “cojones” to pull three points out of such a demoralized bag.

Unless we can we pick ourselves up off the floor in time to repeat Spurs feat of beating Swansea on Wednesday night, I certainly won’t be optimistic about our trip to the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Road next weekend. Where we might well end up with the limit of our ambitions being to try and prevent Tottenham torturing us further, by challenging for a title that really should’ve been ours for the taking!

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