After a summer which saw pundits finally fall over themselves to back Arsenal for a title challenge, it all came crumbling down after just 90 minutes of the Premier League season.
A performance which was lacklustre at best saw Arsène Wenger’s side lose 2-0 to West Ham United on the opening weekend and, consequently, everyone is picking holes in Arsenal’s game once more.
“They were too cocky and paid the price,” former Arsenal player and Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas declared on Saturday. “I’ll take nothing away from West Ham who were excellent but it has been an Achilles heel of theirs for a long time.
“It was one heck of a reminder to say that you can have all the good ingredients going forward but if you don’t sort your defence out you won’t win anything.”
This seems like a strange criticism. The defence didn’t do too badly, two poor goals were conceded but we didn’t exactly leak chances. In fact, the problem was going forward. We have a lot of great attacking players – ingredients, to use Nicholas’s metaphor – but they didn’t conjure up anything that tasted nice when put together on Sunday.
“It was an eye opener, a wake-up call,” Nicholas continued. “But I’m glad, if anything, it happened on the first weekend of the season rather than well into the season.”
“It’s not a pleasant feeling on the first game of the season when your major signing of the summer is a goalkeeper, who has got us all excited, and he’s involved in mishaps with his defence straight away,” added Nicholas.
“It just proves it takes time to bed in but I genuinely feel that Arsenal will always be associated with having weaker defenders because so much effort is about attacking play.”
It feels like a lot of pundits haven’t watched Arsenal all that much since about 2012, or at least are still acting and talking with impressions made back then.
Since then Arsenal have rarely been great to watch and have often won games by the odd goal, scrapping out defensively to hold on.
It hasn’t been pretty, but it’s odd to still tar Arsenal with the same old brush from five years ago.