All Guns Blazing: Can Arsenal respond to Watford cup defeat as George Graham’s team did?

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez looks despondent as Watford go 2-0 up in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez looks despondent as Watford go 2-0 up in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Defeat against Watford in the FA Cup sixth round amid a poor run of form in the league – where have we seen this before?

March 1987, to be precise. Having crashed out against exuberant Hornets, including a Liverpool-bound John Barnes, Arsenal were stuck in the middle of 10 winless league games stretching from January to April.

The team rallied to finish fourth – in the days when it meant pride and satisfaction – rather than a raison d’etre.

Yet that season we had a young, hungry team led by a young, hungry manager in George Graham.

Glorious George – though the nickname belied an executioner’s instinct far removed from his languid playing image of Stroller – was in the process of eliminating deadwood, has-beens and underachievers.

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The process may not have been pleasant for those too entrenched in their ways to change – or who simply failed to grasp the days of an ‘easy life’ at Highbury were over – as they were unceremoniously dumped in favour of youngsters who bought into George’s methods.

But for the emerging nucleus of players who were busy rejuvenating a tired, traditional club mired in stasis, the season brought silverware in the form of a first League Cup.

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In the early 1970s Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, when quizzed on the effects of the French Revolution of 1789, said – apocryphally as it turned out – “It’s too early to tell.”

That’s what I feel about the effects of the Watford game on the future of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager.

However, there’s an air of mutiny I haven’t sensed being so vehement before – which will only increase if Leicester or – God forbid that lot from N17 – win the league.

And if our one win in 10 games continues into April and we lose fourth spot, all bets are off in terms of Wenger’s future.

Of course, unfettered by the disappearance of pressure from challenging for trophies we could go on a winning run to confirm third – and then the whole process begins again.

For George Graham a season without a trophy was always a crushing disappointment – for this Arsenal, it’s not something to be unduly concerned about.

And that, sadly, is the real problem.

Follow me @laythy29

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