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Transfer Rater: Havertz, Sarr to Arsenal

Football Whispers

Transfer Rater: Zielinski to Arsenal

Football Whispers
 By Tom Adams

Not good enough at present, Arsenal desperately need a jolt from January window

It is an affliction of modern life that it is becoming impossible to properly concentrate on anything anymore. With a washed-out blue glow emanating from the smartphone which is permanently attached to your palm, there is a ready-made distraction device always at hand, luring your attention away from whatever else it is you are supposed to be doing. When watching Arsenal play away in the Premier League, the condition is even more acute.

There were spells during the 0-0 draw away at West Ham on Wednesday night when it felt genuinely difficult to pay attention. Lacking the imagination to break down a well-organised defence is not a scenario to shoot adrenalin into the system of any Arsenal fan: they've seen it so many times before. Away matches are often quite dreary. Even worse, they are damaging too.

The failure to beat David Moyes' West Ham meant Arsenal have dropped an astonishing 18 points already on their travels. It is the reason they are languishing in seventh place a couple weeks before Christmas and closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table. That and Manchester City's historically good start to the season. 

No one could really expect Arsenal to get close to such a juggernaut, but their league position is still alarming and it is away form which bears responsibility. Defeats to Stoke, Liverpool, Watford and Manchester City. Draws against Chelsea, Southampton and West Ham. The only wins have come in the dying seconds against Burnley and against a woeful Everton in Ronald Koeman's last match in charge. In fact, if you exclude the five goals scored at Goodison Park, Arsenal have managed just four in eight matches. Something is going seriously awry.

Arsenal's form is now assuming the profile of a lower mid-table team: picking up most of their points at home with anything on the road viewed as a bonus. Almost like Burnley last season. Although certainly not Burnley this season, who are ahead of them in the table. Burnley!

Arsenal look to be a team going through the motions at present.
Arsenal look complacent with average results and that is troubling considering that has been the case for a few years now.

This tricky situation should be cause for heightened emotions, and there are always plenty flying about when it comes to Arsenal, but there's an accompanying weariness too. It's increasingly hard to get worked up by the same old failings from a club which never seems to learn or change. As Rio Ferdinand said in the BT studio after the West Ham result: "If I'm an Arsenal fan I'm sitting there and asking the question 'where is the progress over the last few years?'"

And apathy is the unfortunate but logical result.

Arsene Wenger has tried to blame Arsenal's fixture schedule for their travails, when in fact the more obvious explanation is that they simply aren't very good. The downward trajectory which accelerated last season when they dropped out of the top four for the first time in 20 years continues. The Premier League is not full of teams ripe for a battering and Arsenal are struggling when they have to leave the environs of the Emirates Stadium and take on teams whose level is not too far below their own.

It has been a long time since Arsenal played the best football in the country but now they can be actively sleep-inducing. Against West Ham, there was so little penetration and so little invention in the final third. Alex Iwobi hit the post and Jack Wilshere provided a few sparks, as well as missing a hugely presentable chance, but there wasn't a great deal to enjoy.

Still, January offers the chance to find a solution, even just a short-term one. Back in 2008-09, Arsenal were similarly struggling to impress and it needed the January signing of Andrey Arshavin to shake them from their slumber, head off the threat of Aston Villa and finish in the top four once more. 

Arshavin's career at Arsenal was ultimately a big disappointment but his signing did lift the club and inject some impetus into a flagging attack. Aside from that memorable four-goal haul at Anfield, the addition of a new, somewhat unpredictable attacker did Arsenal the world of good.

Wenger may have to find a similar remedy when the transfer window opens or Arsenal could continue their soporific meander down the table.

Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport


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