Tuesday, 23 November 2010
The sight of Arsene Wenger slamming a bottle of water to the ground in frustration (giving Pat Rice a soaking in the process) is perhaps one of the images of the weekend.
It was also the only sign of passion or fight emanating from the Arsenal camp in a game against Spurs they should never have lost.
After two battling away wins at Wolves and Everton – results that caused many to tip the Gunners for the title – old flaws were once again exposed at home to their bitter rivals.
At half time everything was rosy and the players should have started the second half with a clear idea of what to do. The must have expected an early barrage from Tottenham who had to try and get an early goal to get back into the game.
Even after Bale’s strike the home side, with the array of attacking talent on offer, had no need to shrink into their shell like they did.
It reminded me of an FA Cup tie, with Arsenal the lower league team, who retreated further and further, hanging onto their slender advantage and losing mini battles all over the park.
The belief they had gathered in the first period slowly seeped across to the opposition – both on the field and in the stands.
So much so that it was almost expected when Younes Kaboul beat two Arsenal players to the ball to head home the winner late on.
For Arsenal fans it is an all too familiar tale of raised – and then dashed - expectations. Wenger’s hugely talented squad get themselves into winning positions but when it comes to the crunch (they could have gone top of the table with a win on Saturday) they appear to lack the fight, both physically and mentally, to go the extra yard.
What is the missing ingredient?
Well there appears to be a lack of leaders in the team, Cesc Fabregas apart. Sometimes you need players who can drag the team through difficult periods and make them believe in themselves (the sight of William Gallas wearing the Spurs’ captains armband won’t have helped).
Until Wenger solves that problem the spectre of Adams,Viera Henry and co will loom large over his underperforming squad.