All those weeks ago (okay, three) when we lost 2-1 away at the Hawthorns, not many of us could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite not being far behind the league leaders, it felt like we had fallen indescribably far. Our squad was stricken by injuries, we looked devoid of ideas and it was hard to see how we were going to turn it around. Although we were generally unlucky as well, our shortcomings were glaringly obvious and it was a real down point in the season so far.
It didn’t get much better the next week when we drew against Norwich. This time, we weren’t just unlucky, we were poor and we picked up even more injuries.
However, could this low point be what eventually makes us?
We went on to beat Sunderland 3-1 and although we didn’t play our best in the first half, this time we managed to get over the finish line with all three points. Next came our staggering 3-0 win over Olympiacos, which saw us safely through to the knock-out stage of the Champions League and then, most recently, our comfortable 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
We still have injuries but we’ve learnt to adapt and learnt to fight. We’ve seen what it’s like to lose and instead of allowing it to continue, we’ve changed things around in record time. Long gone are the days where a ‘bad patch’ was a couple of months of misery. Now, we have the tools to bounce back.
This is why West Brom beating us might not have been a bad thing.
Here me out.
I’m still very much of the opinion that no team can go an entire season without a rough patch. Especially not Arsenal. Perhaps this brief period in our notoriously direr November is our blip and now it’s over. It’s finished, we’ve recovered and we’re now in an incredibly strong position.
As disappointing as losing can be, it can be character building. Stepping out onto a pitch being watched by the fans you feel you let down only days earlier and finding it in yourself to hold your head up and get a result is huge. Although our players are trained professionals, they’re still human and defeats do affect them, just like they do the rest of us.
Bad results teach our team what it means to lose and how it feels to not fulfill your potential. It shows the players what failure feels like and, hopefully, fuels them to not want to ever feel it again.
Losing also strengthens the bonds between the players. Rather than finger-pointing, which I doubt Wenger allows, it helps them band together and discuss where they went wrong. They’re all going through the same emotional turmoil and it makes them want to put it right – together.
Numerous sources have hailed our current team spirit and I reckon challenging in the face of adversity can only make that stronger.
Now, we’re getting players back from injury and even though we still have plenty out, the current group know how to adapt and perform without them. We’re no longer shell-shocked and nervous, we know we’re capable of pulling off a win without some of our main men, and that’s hugely valuable.