Arsenal 0 West Ham 0
This time last season, had we drawn away at a strong Everton side, and drawn at home to a West Ham side in form, there would not have been much angst among the support. At that point, the context had us flying, and those matches would’ve been blips on a bigger, more successful picture.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a completely different position this time around. Outside the top four, looking as uncreative as we probably ever have under Wenger, yesterday’s match was another where you have to hunt for the positives.
There were some, undoubtedly – we controlled the game, and for the second match in succession we looked very solid at the back, the Toure-Gallas partnership finally seeming to click. But going forward, we created very little despite having so much possession, and when the chances did arrive, the woefully out of form Adebayor missed them.
I don’t want to criticise the big man too much, because he has scored some critical goals for us this season, but he has never been the most skillful player in the world, and what endeared him to us in the first place was that he worked his socks off to compensate. Last season, he added finishing and finesse to a powerful and determined make up, and became a tremendous forward. This term, he seems to be uninterested at times, and without the workrate he has shown us in the past, he is a shadow of the player he can and should be.
That said, he could easily have had a brace. He first chance, the best of the game, saw him lunge for a cross with the wrong foot, putting it wide, and the second he made a better fist of, getting in front of his man to head straight at the keeper. Elsewhere, Denilson was having a couple of decent efforts, and Toure had a looped shot cleared off the line.
Van Persie was the surprising absentee from the team, rested after carrying the side for a month (and perhaps protected from picking up a booking that would’ve seen him miss the Spurs game). Wenger gambled on this being the game we could win without him, and it backfired. Having criticised Liverpool for years for being reliant on a couple of players, I have to admit we’re slipping into the same trap. The Dutchman could’ve won it in injury time, but snatched at a half chance.
Villa drew at home to Wigan, so it is a relief not to be seven points behind them today, but eyes now turn to Anfield, where our other rivals – Liverpool and Chelsea – fight it out. A winner would be eight points ahead of us, but defeat for either would make them look over their shoulders.
It is all a bit infuriating, if I’m honest. There are three or four players in our team who just shouldn’t be there at the moment. Song still seems out of his depth despite the occasional good performance, Denilson can become a great player but isn’t ready yet, while Adebayor is so clearly out of form that Eduardo can’t return soon enough.
Thoughts now turn inevitably towards the transfer window, which closes tomorrow night. It is hard to read whether anything will happen, but we need something to lift us out of of this malaise.
Keep your fingers and toes crossed.