All Guns Blazing: Arsenal have the tools – now it’s time to use them
09:02 28 January 2016
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In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Uche Amako laments the club’s recent form and assessed what changes Arsene Wenger could make to recharge their title bid.
If Arsenal’s last three matches were meant to be a test of their title-winning credentials, it’s hard to argue they passed the exam. Two points from nine is not good enough.
Joe Allen’s late equaliser for Liverpool now looks extremely costly, while Olivier Giroud’s two missed chances against Stoke also feel like moments which will prove decisive after 38 games.
In terms of Sunday’s defeat to Chelsea, the game was over the moment Per Mertesacker made the tackle.
Given our woeful recent record against them and being down to 10 men again, the odds of coming back were slim.
It is always easier with the benefit of hindsight but I think Mertesacker should have let Diego Costa go. I don’t mean let him run through unopposed. Chase and put pressure on him but force him to beat Petr Cech.
But that wasn’t the case and Arsenal find themselves three points off the top with 15 games to go, including difficult on paper trips to Spurs, Everton, Manchester United and Manchester City.
A hallmark of champions is being able to go on lengthy winning runs. It feels like the team which can produce five or six wins on the bounce will win the league or, at the very least, make it difficult to be caught.
With the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Francis Coquelin coming back from injury, Arsenal are in good shape to mount a sustained challenge. So Arsene Wenger faces some big decisions about his best team moving forward.
Gabriel must start applying major pressure on Mertesacker’s place in defence. The German has become a target for the opposition; Southampton in particular attacked his lack of pace. If the players were reversed, I’d feel confident that Gabriel catches Costa and makes the tackle, unlike Mertesacker.
New signing Mohamed Elneny will almost certainly make his debut against Burnley on Saturday.
If he plays well, he’ll be in a good position to be Aaron Ramsey’s partner in central midfield. Mathieu Flamini has played commendably since Coquelin’s injury but long-term, the Frenchman should only be considered as a back-up.
The next few weeks look set to make or break Arsenal’s season and the pressure will increase as the stakes get higher.
Arsenal have the tools at their disposal – it is time to use them!
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