Coming off a 5-0 win against Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round at St Mary’s on Saturday evening, you’d be forgiven for backing Arsenal to ease to a resounding victory over Watford. With Arsene Wenger sat in the stands, an out-of-sorts Arsenal side limped to a 2-1 loss to the Hornets, which effectively ended their bid to end a 13-year wait for the Premier League title. Once again, Arsenal were made to pay for a slow start after Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney made it 2-0 inside 12 minutes, highlighting what has been an Achilles heel for Arsenal. When you look at their chief rivals, Chelsea and Liverpool, both Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp’s sides maintain an intensity from the start which allows them to blow away teams. This is an area Wenger needs to work on.
So often, Premier League games are won and lost in midfield. How Arsenal supporters must cast an envious eye towards west London where N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic dominate Chelsea’s opponents. If Gooners switch their focus to their north London neighbours, Tottenham have Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama – the only duo to get the better of Kante and Matic this term. Arsenal, though, haven’t settled on a consistent midfield duo. Granit Xhaka was signed in a £33m but right now, the defensive midfielder looks more like an Everton player than an Arsenal player!
All of Arsenal’s chief rivals have made changes in the managerial hot seats in recent seasons. The Gunners, though, have kept faith with Arsene Wenger – to their detriment. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are yet to commit to new deals, with their futures apparently hinging on Wenger’s next move at The Emirates. Conte, Klopp and Jose Mourinho have given their clubs a new lease of life and you can’t help but wonder whether a new manager would get the best out of the Arsenal squad that look to have become too comfortable under Wenger – someone who has always been quick to defend his players.
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