Arsenal produced a disappointing draw against Middlesbrough but as the ‘big four’ all failed to win, the Gunners now face a must win game against Liverpool to decide if not already, their title hopes.
Since back to back defeats against Man City and Aston Villa Arsenal have now played three games without defeat (7 points). Not exactly something to get excited about if one wants to be a title challenger but the rest of the big four are also having trouble getting points recently. From the last three games Chelsea have 4 points , Liverpool 5 and Man United 7.
Of course stats are just numbers and it is what you see that counts. And Arsenal have improved since the start of the season but it seems injuries have really affected them again. Not many people felt wingers was the main problem before the start of the season but now everyone is an expert. No one anticipated Rosicky and Walcott would be out for a long time and Nasri and Eboue will pick up many niggling injuries (though it seems obvious looking at their injury records).
It is not exactly the lack of wingers that is the problem. Width doesn’t win you games, it isn’t about the individual it is about the whole team making good movement and providing better support where they are useful to the situation.
From wide it is more the dynamism which is missing and overall the players to create chances. The biggest threat against Middlesbrough were Adebayor and Fabregas, while Robin Van Persie surprisingly chose to play higher up when it would have been expected of him to create. The two forwards should play closer to each other if they are to make a better partnership though there are signs of improvment in combination play between them. Denilson and Diaby should have looked to break pass the forwards to compensate for their lack of dynamism and pace.
Since those afforementioned defeats there have been notable improvements to the team. The balance in central midfield has improved; Fabregas now dictating and Song brought in and doing better than Denilson in shielding the back four. He may not have a low center of gravity or the passing skill but his presence helps.
Djourou is improving and looks to be one of those priceless defenders, like Carvalho, Puyol and Ferdinand who are good on the floor as well as the air. Silvestre is out after conceding 19 goals in 12 matches.
There are definitely improvements to be made but the team is slowly getting better and if Nasri is fit expect an improved performance against Liverpool and there after. Lets see the position of the club come January and who knows a signing may come in to further strengthen the squad.