Momentarily forget about the unfortunate injuries to Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez – we can only hope that they are not too serious.
After all, the Arsenal injury curse continues to roll on. Just days after Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned to training, we have yet more players on the sidelines.
Going into the game all we needed to do was win. Leicester City, Manchester United and Tottenham had all dropped points and a win at Carrow Road would have pushed Arsenal to joint top in the Premier League table at the end of November.
Instead, a month of frustration has been typified by this result.
The draw itself was probably fair in truth, although not one that helps boost our title credentials. You’ve probably already seen it before, like the way City scrambled for three points against Norwich, or United looked certain to drop points away at Watford.
Both Manchester clubs won those games. Ultimately, that’s what you need to do, especially when you’re not playing on top form. Win.
Given the sheer quality within the team, Arsenal should have won – just like against West Brom. Instead, the headlines will revolve around the never-ending injury crisis, Arsène Wenger’s judgment, and their place in the table. An underwhelming fourth.
What makes the draw feel like a bitter defeat though, is the way in which the game panned out. Arsenal unsurprisingly enjoyed plenty of spells in possession, 63.4% across the 90 minutes in total, but struggled to utilise that in the final third.
Olivier Giroud didn’t look particularly sharp, missed a few half-chances when he really should have been testing John Ruddy at least – especially given the English goalkeeper himself seemed shaky upon occasion, and made a mistake which led to Mesut Özil’s well-taken finish.
It seemed typical that the hosts would pull a goal back, and when they did, it just highlighted a flaw in Arsenal’s plan.
Picking their moments to get forward, we allowed them too much time and space on the ball in the final third.
To be effective, you have to take your chances when they eventually do arise. Lewis Grabban levelled the scoring from close-range, and it was game on again.
From a total of twelve shots during the game, only three were actually on target. Two, if you exclude the goal.
We have plenty of game-changers within the team but when Alexis clutched his hamstring on the hour mark, an influx of emotions began flowing through my head.
The first, frustration. You could see the signs, having played so much football with so little recovery time, it seemed inevitable he would get injured if he wasn’t rested. So why did Wenger take the risk?
The second, realisation. Not only that Wenger’s decision was spurred on by Alexis’ admirable – but delicate – eagerness to play every match, his tireless workrate and overall contribution to the team. But also, the fact we didn’t have any attacking options good enough to start ahead of him.
The third, I can only describe as bittersweet. With The Ox and Ramsey back in the fray, as well as Reine-Adelaide and a few other youngsters desperate for their chance to shine, you’d only hope they’d take that opportunity with both hands.
Prove their worth, and cement their place in the first-team on a regular basis.
Speaking of The Ox, he was lively and attempted to make things happen in the final third when introduced with 20 minutes to play.
However, the winning goal didn’t come and, somewhat alarmingly, it felt as though there was a distinct lack of urgency from midfield, as though the game was already won.
He swung in a few inviting deliveries into the box for Giroud, but the Frenchman was unable to grab a goal and despite some pressure in the latter stages, the scoreline remained the same.
A 1-1 draw and it does feel like a defeat, all things considered. Another golden opportunity to close the gap at the top squandered. After the frustrations at the Hawthorns, and a morale-boosting victory against Zagreb in midweek, it feels like we’ve gone a step back again.
With that in mind, the month of December certainly isn’t going to be any easier.