'Fragile' Arsenal facing a crisis ahead of Manchester City showdown
The January transfer window brought so much optimism for many Arsenal fans around the world.
The Gunners strengthened very well in the attack by bringing in two of world football’s top stars to replace the Manchester United-bound Alexis Sanchez.
However, for some reason, there were those who felt the arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were just not enough.
Arsene Wenger has often been very reluctant to spend in the January transfer window but, when he eventually did, it was in extravagant fashion.
The €60 million signing of Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund was a statement, but the Frenchman’s failure to bring in defensive reinforcements has ensured that the club could soon be plunged into a crisis.
Against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final last Sunday the Gunners demonstrated the very reason why Wenger needed to purchase a centre-back rather than another attacker.
Whiles the attacking trident of Aubameyang, Jack Wilshire and Mezut Ozil occasionally showed glimpses a fearsome frontline, the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny undid all their efforts with some of the most terrible defending you would ever come across in the 21st century.
The German, in particular, was culpable for Man City’s opener, refusing to jump and allowing Sergio Aguero – a far smaller player in size and stature – to easily shove him off the ball before lobbing the hapless Petr Cech in the post.
City’s second and third goals came in similar fashion, with the both David Silva and Vincent Kompany benefitting from poor marking from the Arsenal defence to put the game beyond reach.
The 3-0 score line and the abject performance displayed by the Gunners was all too familiar with the Arsenal faithful. On countless occasions against the big guns, they have often faltered as a result of a lack of fight.
But another loss against Man City on Thursday could plunge the club into a real crisis. The Gunners have recorded just one win since that vintage 5-1 mauling of Everton in early February, and their recent displays leave much to ponder.
With the Premier League title, a top four place and the FA Cup all now out of reach, the Carabao Cup would have been a realistic chance of silverware. However, that opportunity has also been blown away.
Some may argue that the Europa League also presents a chance for Wenger and his men to save their season, but a fixture against an AC Milan side that has won its last six games on the trot could not have come at a worse time for Arsenal
As it stands, the Europa League is all that there is to fight for, but even that could change if the Gunners fail to gain a favourable result against the Rossoneri in the first leg in Italy.
But a win against City on Thursday could provide the tonic that keeps the Gunners going. Another loss, though, and Wenger and his Arsenal side could be facing a real crisis with three months more to the end of the season.Published 02 Mar 2018, 01:55 IST