Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0
1) We are on a thirteen match unbeaten run.
2) We have conceded just one goal in the last six games.
It all sounds so rosy, doesn’t it? Statistics never tell the whole story, and it is hard to think of a pair that put more of a positive spin on what it becoming an extremely bad situation.
Early in the season, we lost a few, but stayed around the top because we were winning the rest. Yes, we quickly lost as many as we had last season, but our downfall last year were the draws, which we’d seemed to have cut out. Now, both wins and losses are being converted to draws, and the net result is we’re slipping.
We may been unbeaten in thirteen, but we’ve drawn eight of those, and while our defence has only shipped one goal in six, we’ve only managed Van Persie’s last minute equaliser at Everton outside hammering a Championship side in the cup.
It isn’t good enough, and with twelve games remaining that top four position is looking less and less certain. We’re in a run of fixtures that we should be winning to put the pressure on Villa, and we need to get ahead of them soon because Liverpool, Chelsea and United are three of our last six opponents.
And yesterday, for all of Wenger’s dig at Sunderland’s tactics, they actually posed a threat and only shut up shop in the second half. By then, we should’ve been ahead, but a lack of urgency and some poor finishing led to our third consecutive goalless draw in the league, and what is most frustrating is how the players only seemed to show any drive in the final five minutes. Why not the other 85?
It all started well, Arshavin showing exactly why we’d paid so much for him – even half fit he was a hundred times more effective than Eboue, firing just wide with his right before manufacturing another chance on his left, which was parried. He then set up a chance for Bendtner with a delightful cross, and if he carries on in that vein, he’ll win us at least a couple of matches before the end of the season. Those extra points could pay for his transfer fee if they snuck us into fourth.
But that’s about the only positive paragraph I can come up with. We look toothless against well organised defences, we are playing with absolutely no pace, and if that continues, any of the games that look simple on paper could turn into as frustrating a match as yesterday’s.
All season I’ve been convinced that we’d get into the top four in the end. But after comparing Villa’s efforts against Chelsea (even though they lost) to ours, I’m not so sure. Rather than getting there by putting in a run of our own, I think we’re reliant on Villa’s fixture list catching up with them, causing them to collapse.
There arepositives – our back line are playing better than they have in ages, especially Gallas and Toure, but we lack drive, we lack speed, and we just don’t scare teams anymore.
There is still time to turn this around, but we’re running out of it.