Arsenal starting to show signs of usual self

There is an English saying that ‘barking dogs seldom bite’ perhaps this is what we have started to experience from   Arsenal’s recent performance after making quite an impressive start to the season.
Dr Joseph Kamugisha
Dr Joseph Kamugisha

There is an English saying that ‘barking dogs seldom bite’ perhaps this is what we have started to experience from   Arsenal’s recent performance after making quite an impressive start to the season.

The current English Premier League leaders, Arsenal have been in astonishing form since the start of the season and the arrivals of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid on transfer dead line day has made their supporters start to dream.

But recent home defeats to Borrussia Dortmund in the Uefa Champions League coupled with the elimination from the League Cup at the hands of London rivals Chelsea, has exposed Arsene Wenger’s team as title pretenders rather than contenders.

The Emirates Stadium side has gone eight years without a trophy; this prompted increased speculation in recent seasons that  Arsenal Wenger could possibly be close to being shown the exit door, but that has been dampened by their imperious form this season.

The continued lack of silverware has prompted a section of Arsenal fans to turn guns towards their long-serving manager Wenger as they demand improved results.

Wenger is well known for his limited spending during the transfer window and Arsenal’s underachievement in the last eight seasons has been largely criticised on grounds of thinness of the squad and the lack of real world class players.

Perhaps Arsenal’s first eleven can challenge almost every team in Europe but they lack experienced and skilled replacements as compared to the likes of Chelsea, the two Manchesters, City and United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich among others.

Wenger has always trusted youngsters from the academy and reserve the team to play in competitions like the League Cup and FA but this has always ended in disappointment with poor results and subsequent exits.

As observed this week, Chelsea rested all but one player from the side that beat Man City 2-1 in the Premier League last weekend but still managed to beat a competitive Arsenal side with fewer youngsters.

This means Chelsea do possess a stronger squad in depth than Arsenal. Certainly Chelsea is likely to perform better than Arsenal in most of the competitions.

Majority of Chelsea stars involved in the weekend game rested and will have fresher legs come this weekend fixture against Newcastle United, unlike the Gunner’s who were forced to bring in all their top guns.

With Arsenal hosting fellow high-flying Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium and a trip to Dortmund next week, I can only see the Gunners taking one direction, downside.

Some of Arsenal stars, who have been out due to injury, are beginning to return but I still do believe that the hectic December would leave its toll on them due to fixture congestion.

Perhaps the only option would be to wait for the January transfer window for Wenger to bring in new faces but by that stage; it could be a little too late.

Arsenal could face early exit from the Champions League if they lose to Dortmund and Napoli gets a good result against the group bottom side, Marseille.

Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli are all level on six points, with only the top two progressing to the knockout stage. Now imagine Arsenal in the Europa League!

If they lose to Dortmund twice, they will be forced to go for a must win against Napoli in Italy to stand any chance of qualification to the next round and a task that seems very difficult but achievable.

In the first leg, Arsenal beat 10-men Napoli side at the Emirates Stadium and the return leg might not be a sure deal for them against Rafa Benitez’s in-form side from Naples.

And early exit from the Champions League will be a disaster for the loyal Gunners, who are yawning for silverware.  I surely wish the Gunners well.

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