– One Nil to the Arsenal – By: Rob Dominguez

As I explain below – my energy is, for lack of a better term, off the pace (just like the Gunners). Thus, for the next three weeks – my weekly Arsenal contribution – will be targeted towards identifying the problems faced by the squad, and how to fix them. Hopefully, I’ll have regained my energy, and with it – the Gunners will be back in stride…

I put off writing this article about as long as I could. I did everything: updated my resume, went to work, spent extra time on the pitch, played some Fifa. Conceivably, it’s kind of hard to write about a team after they’ve been ripped apart by the best player in the world, and I still have little motivation to write this as I sit in front of my computer. As a fan, I’ve sat in front of my television week after week and thought to myself, “It’s frustrating work being an Arsenal fan”. That being said, I’ve tried to look at this situation that Arsenal are in – not as a supporter – but as a coach.

– The keeper –
Manuel Almunia. How you make my head hurt. From the bleach-blonde mohawk completely lacking style, to the performances put in between the sticks week after week completely lacking quality and consistency: why didn’t the Professor replace you? After the first seven minutes of his performance in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, everyone watching was mesmerized by his miraculous shot stopping ability and saves that were seemingly impossible. These reactions would prove to be a faint glimmer of hope to what is the reality of the most inconsistent keeper in the Premier League.
However, arguably, it’s not all Almunia’s fault that he’s complete shite. When you have a resource that’s never needed, never tested, how do you know it’s still good? With the back-line that Arsenal’s started in recent seasons (since 2006, when Almunia became first choice) there’s been little to challenge the angry Spaniard. The style of football played by Arsenal and the focus on possession grant little opportunity for other teams to possess the ball, thus leaving fewer opportunities to score. In any number of outings this season, it wasn’t losses of any great magnitude that had the Arsenal faithful hanging their heads – it was the losing of 2 points in crucial fixtures that may very well cost Arsenal the title race this season.
This all leads to a theme that seems evident throughout every area of the Arsenal game: consistency. To me, as a coach, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing what a team is capable of, and then turning round on themselves and playing nowhere near their potential. The ABILITY has been clearly evident in Alumina’s performances, scattered throughout the season in all competitions, but it has not – nor has it ever – been consistent. Leaving me to say, “It’s frustrating work being an Arsenal fan”.

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