Arsenal fans should take West Ham defeat with pinch of salt
After The Gunners shock 0-2 defeat to West Ham United last weekend, the past five days have seen the hyperbole and vitriol once again fly mercilously, mainly from the mouths of certain corners of the Arsenal fanbase. After such hope and excitement of what the next nine months may bring for Arsenal Football Club, is it already time to panic or have the country's oft-flakiest tribe once again overreacted?
The mood in N5 at a quarter-past-three last Sunday was a sombre one. There was an heir of shock that had descended on Islington - and rightly so. The fans had seen their beloved Gunners turned over by a team that only a few days previously, had been knocked out of Europa League qualifying, even before the playoff stage had come into view.
The loss was difficult to stomach for many in attendance, whose belief prior to kick-off was that Arsenal had a real chance of mounting a sustained challenge to Chelsea's crown. So what happened?
The post-mortems have been mixed and it is tricky to pin down one singular reason, but for sure the age old cliche of footballing complacency - of which Arsenal have been repeat offenders - reared its' ugly head. It is a feeling too well known for Gooners the world over.
The was also the pressure factor. Arsene Wenger had protested that the season had began too early this term, but whilst his point may have held some credence, Wenger should have ensured his side were prepared mentally and physically. The Arsenal boss has up to now dealt with the issue poorly.
Certain pressure told a part in Petr Cech's domestic debut for his new side. The Czech international was meant to bring a new solidity to Arsenal's game, even going as far as adding and extra 12 or 15 points come the climax of the season, according to his former Chelsea captain John Terry, in any event. What we saw, was a performance of huge uncertainty in unfamiliar surroundings, but one which should not be a surprise given his former lofty perch.
The absence of Hector Bellerin at right-back, was a major contributory factory to the home sides downfall versus The Irons. With Mathieu Debuchy a more than able deputy to the young Spaniard, The Gunners were however, left with a larger space for the visitors to utilize, into which Hammers league debutant Dimitri Payet, had a relative and literal field day in.
All were contribitory keys to Slaven Bilic's masterminding a hugely unlikely victory versus the reigning FA Cup holders. The reaction to the loss, would suggest otherwise. Critics have been vitriolic in nature, but these elements would surely suggest this result be a mere blip. Indeed, Arsenal lost their opening game three seasons ago, at The Emirates versus Aston Villa - albeit via some questionable refereeing from Anthony Taylor - and still went on to finish top four. Obviously Arsenal's objectives are grander this year, but it should not be panic stations just yet, nor should their title chances be written off.
There is food for thought for Wenger's men, however. It was the worst outing for Arsenal's central midfield since the renaissance of Francis Coquelin. Coquelin was always likely to be a stop gap (however long) and the Frenchman showed signs this may yet be the case. If reports are to be believed, it may also explain a late move for Sevilla's Grzegorz Krychowiak .
Olivier Giroud has always has his critics, but the sheer wave of negativity that has bswept his way would be enough to unsettle anyone. Unfortunately for the French international striker, his performances on the big stage have at times, gone down with the Titanic. Even in this case, West Ham cannot be regarded as a 'big' team.
Arsenal fans have been crying out for a the recruitment the ilk of Karim Benzema - as the world class striker The Gunners need - but thus far, such echoes have fallen on deaf ears. So will Wenger swallow his pride, the furtherment of his countryman and sacrifice his French striker?
With Crystal Palace on the horizon on Sunday afternoon, the trip from North to South London is one which The Gunners may not relish. Equally though, it is the perfect opportunity to bounce back, in the face of adversity. Still, as the fixtures were revealed back in June, a home tie versus West Ham and a trip to Selhurst Park was the perfect platform to begin their 2015/16 campaign. Now though, the task takes on a little more significance. One which few could have forseen.