What has happened to this Arsenal team?

Once again we’ve not taken the chance given to us.

How many times are we given chances, only to not give ourselves any chance? This season it’s been more than ever. And the players are more experienced and a year older than last season. Yet nothing’s changed.

It seemed like we’d turned a corner in January time. Thrashing teams for fun, keeping clean sheets too. But after the Carling Cup final defeat everything went pearshaped. People talk about our mental strength being poor, and they’d be absolutely right. But the biggest thing about our mental strength is our confidence and belief. That’s why we’re such an inconsistent team.

Every time we get a bad result, we let it get to us and continue to get bad results. We don’t bounce back like Man United always do. We just curl up in a ball and hope the blows don’t kill us. I was reading a post on the excellent Gingers For Limpar and came across a line that I felt was particularly significant. It was about the Invincibles. “They knew they were the best team in the league, and by Jupiter, they were going to batter the life out of anyone who dared try to prove otherwise.”

That’s partly what’s missing. We don’t believe that we’re the best team in the league. And if our players don’t believe it, then nobody else will, and we’re not going to convince anyone that we’re the best. So until we instil a winning mentality – that’s belief mainly – we won’t win the league.

What we also need to do is either make sure more players take responsibility, or buy players who will. Maybe both. Cesc and van Persie were our leaders, the only ones trying to make things happen on their own. The other plays just thought it would happen, be put on a plate for them. That’s not going to happen is it?

Back in the day of the Invincibles, each player would take equal responsibility. Henry would scare the life out of defenders in trying to score. Bergkamp would look for the killer pass, or go for goal. Vieira would lead our counter attacks and help if we needed. Pires and Ljungberg would run their socks off and get into the perfect positions and nine times out of ten, they’d score.

Now, other than Fabregas and van Persie, nobody else does that. They don’t realise how big a part they have to play, and how they have to contribute as much as anyone else. They don’t think that they can win the game on their own. And it all comes back to that word belief, or confidence or whatever you want to call it.

Nicklas Bendtner is famous for his “arrogance”. No commentator will talk about him without mentioning how he thinks he’s the best striker in the world. But he never said that. All that was said was something on the lines of believing at his best, he’s a good player and should start. Nothing wrong with that.

In fact, it’s a good thing. That’s a sign of him wanting more responsibility, not shying away from it like many players currently do. I’d rather players had his attitude than the ones they do now, mostly. He knows he has something to prove, and he wants to prove it. A lot of people think he should be sold. In my opinion, he should be given more chances to show what he can do.

It was just a poor performance and nobody stepped up to win the match for us. Nobody could make the difference that we needed in attack, nobody knew how to stop Bolton from scoring in defence. Another thing we need is to sort out our defence. We may be great occasionally, but there are so many little mistakes and things that should be done that aren’t that cost us.

We need some hungry players who can make a difference this summer, and to get rid of those who don’t make a difference. We had no excuses today of injuries, only Vermaelen was out. Maybe we should give some different players a chance, like Ramsey, Gibbs and Chamakh. See what they can offer. Show the first team players that they have to earn their right to start week in, week out. Start Arshavin too, he’s been working hard while others haven’t quite.

Yet another thing we need is a change in tactics and formation. The 4-3-3 has now failed. We need to change back to 4-4-2 or at least have some variety in our tactics because the 4-3-3 is predictable and stale now. Put Theo up front, draw the opposition towards us and then play him in behind. Play Cesc a bit deeper too.

I’ve had enough of ranting so that’s your lot. Until later…

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