Arsenal: Stark truths hit home hard… very hard

SWANSEA, WALES - JANUARY 30: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts before the Premier League match between Swansea City and Arsenal at Liberty Stadium on January 30, 2018 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
SWANSEA, WALES - JANUARY 30: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts before the Premier League match between Swansea City and Arsenal at Liberty Stadium on January 30, 2018 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) /
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Jamie Carragher has labelled Arsenal an embarrassment, stating that they are actually getting worse. The stark truths hit home hard, very hard.

Saturday’s North London derby was a thoroughly depressing affair. The ever-debated power struggle that is overly hyped-up in the media came to the fore: Spurs wrestled it from their formerly domineering neighbours. Arsenal were outmatched in every facet of the game.

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Perhaps the most depressing element of the performance and the result was the predictability of it. Arsenal have been outmatched by Spurs in every facet of the game for some time. In fact, they are outmatched in every facet of the game by every other top-six side. And they are getting worse.

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That is the viewpoint of Jamie Carragher, who used the Gunners’ away form, something that Arsene Wenger himself has bemoaned this week, as a case study for their declining standing in English football. Speaking on Sky Sports, Carragher admitted that not only does Wenger’s side still suffer from the mental fragilities that they were able to overcome previously thanks to their natural talent and quality but they also now lack that very ability that clouded many of their issues:

"“I’ve always questioned Arsenal’s mentality but you’ve always felt they were good enough. I still question their mentality but they aren’t good enough now. Arsenal are actually getting worse, they aren’t getting better. If you go back to Crystal Palace last season, I called them “cowards” and sometimes when you look back you can think it’s a bit strong. But those (away form) stats back me up. Twenty-six points from 26 away games is an embarrassment for a team that are supposedly one of the top teams in the country.”"

They are harsh words. But they are nonetheless true. Not since the 2005/06 season has Wenger’s team had less points than this far into the year. They are currently 27 points behind Manchester City. That is the equivalent to nine wins, or, if you’d rather, winning a quarter of the season’s games. They are only 25 points above West Bromwich Albion who are bottom of the table.

Additionally, they have scored the second-fewest amount of goals of the top six and have conceded the same amount as Newcastle United and Brighton. In fact, they have conceded five more goals than any other team in the top six, and now have fewer points than games played away from home.

To add to the pain, their chances of a top-four finish are almost non-existent, slumping to an eight-point deficit, and are solely relying on a triumphant Europa League campaign to sneak into Europe’s top-tier competition without their two starting strikers — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied for the whole duration of the tournament, while Alexandre Lacazette has just undergone knee surgery and will be unavailable for four to six weeks, which will likely include four Europa League games.

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Arsenal are going backwards. That is the fact of the matter. It is a stark and painful truth, one that I have little confidence will alter without significant and sweeping changes at the club, right from the very top all the way to the finite detail.