Arsenal ended their run of home defeats with a 1-1 draw against Southampton.
How does one feel about that result? Obviously, it’s better than losing. Equally, it’s not winning. Arsenal couldn’t buy a win, even if they had deep pockets and not loose change lying around.
Every week the anguish extends, bringing with it new hideous statistics. One minute it’s Arsenal’s worst start to a season in 40 years, the next it’ll be the single worst ever.
With top four chasing Southampton – who could have briefly gone top of the Premier League table with victory – making the trip to the Emirates and failing to beat a side languishing in 15th and playing with ten men for 30 minutes, who left the happier manager seems and easy judgment to make.
In such instances where three points aren’t achieved, you then look to what other aspects of the game are cause for optimism. Did Arsenal pepper the Saints’ goal, dominate possession and lose out to a fortuitous goal?
They did not.
With all respect to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, Arsenal are a club who shouldn’t be coming away with results like this one feeling good about themselves. The Saints are a top side. Arsenal should be. Dampening any faint spirits might not be the best way to look at that result, but these cracks can’t be papered over.
Here are three of the negative aspects from the 1-1 draw.
Self-Belief in the Gutter
This won’t change. Not anytime soon.
Even if Everton hit the post eight times and Jordan Pickford punches the ball into his own net, a win by any means is all that will stop the slump.
Until then, the ‘fear’ that Theo Walcott mentioned post-match is exactly what is most frightening of all. Arsenal are scared, and they’ll continue to be reserved in everything they do until points start accumulating.
Against Southampton, the issue of confidence was blinding. Two sides who couldn’t visibly appear any different. Starting games slowly, losing your tactical focus in favour of ill-timed pressing: all indications of a lack of self-belief.
As fans we reluctantly allow ourselves to have the faintest modicum of hope – entirely unjustified – but the players don’t. It’s clear as day that they know they need to win, they just don’t believe they can.
It’s a brutally damaging scenario. When and where the wins will come from look more distant by the day.