It has been the longest month of the year, and as a Gunner, it has also felt like Groundhog Day, every single day the team has stepped on to the field in this gay ole month of November. Ha! Coming into this month we have been inundated with news stories about how this month has been a key player in the demise of our Premier League challenge for the past ten years or so and as we held our collective breaths on its approach, we also said silent prayers, silent prayers which asked the football gods to see Arsenal through this month unscathed, with enough artillery with which to attack all who before felt November would prove treacherous to us.
One part of those prayers has been answered at least; The Arsenal is unbeaten in the month of November, at least thus far, but there is no artillery to attack the opposition with. Oh wait, there is, if you believe Arsenal will come crumbling again this season in its assault on the title.
Game after game this month, we have shown one main positive, the presence of fight, grit and a new never-say-die attitude never seen in London Colney for about a decade now, and just like in a typical Arsenal-since-2006 analysis, you can find several flaws if you look closely, one of which has been simmering underneath but this month has finally bubbled over; THE LACK OF AN IDENTITY.
An identity is crucial in every facet of life, including Sports, where the smallest advantage is sought over one’s opponent. An identity is the defining personality, quality and belief that set one apart from others in any field.
Arsenal has been known worldwide as one of the main proponents of beautiful, pleasing and even to some, orgasmic football and this began when Monsieur Wenger set foot in the club. The gaffer believes entertaining the fans, who toil throughout the week at work to come up with money to purchase what are some of the most expensive tickets in sports worldwide is of the utmost importance and has ingrained in everyone who has ever won the shirt under his reign this mindset.
The Arsenal has always been identified by swashbuckling passing of the ball with pace and quality in triangles that sometimes has left opponents mesmerized, but on occasions has left the team open to several thrashings at the hands of opponents of higher nous. At least, the team had an identity when we lost 6-0 to Chelsea, 8-2 to United and in several other embarrassing defeats. What we see nowadays is a team struggling to find its feet and any semblance of continuity. You see a team which does not know whether it is going to fully commit to pressing and hitting teams on the counter attack or whether it is going to sit back deep, absorb pressure and then attack the opposition. At least one thing we certainly are not seeing is an Arsenal team in full flow, moving the ball about with confidence, fluid precision and incision.
The blame solely lies at the feet of one person, Arsene Wenger. This is not an indictment on the Gaffer. I love the man, though I haven’t some of his decisions in recent years, but just as he was hailed sole creator of the team’s former world renowned attacking identity, so does he now have to accept responsibility for the team’s current situation of fumbling about in the dark. Every team after training with a manager for a while begins to take on board the personality and beliefs of the manager. You see it in all the teams around the world. Currently when you watch the Arsenal you see a team filled with doubt, low on confidence, high on poor decision making, complacency, disinterest and simply put a lack of concentration over 90 minutes, could this be that the team is channeling the personality and beliefs of Le Proffeseur in recent times? This is a question worth asking as the Gaffer is in his final year and may going through moments of doubt and self analysis which may be affecting him and the team indirectly.
Whatever the reason is ultimately, it does not bode well for the team. There clearly are several positives surrounding this club, including that 18-game unbeaten run which is no easy task. But a team without an identity in the long run crumbles, because there is no glue holding everything together. So from now the challenge begins, to find ourselves, the best version of ourselves as Arsenal Football Club, lest we remain lost in the world, in the unforgivable world of football.