QPR 2 – 1 AFC: Back to Earth

Arsenal fans seem as furious about this defeat as any other in this topsy-turvy season.  Once again, the players are being branded as no-hopers and the manager as clueless.  It’s almost as if one result has caused a seven-game winning streak to evaporate.

The fact is that if you allow your performance level to drop, any team in this division can beat you.  Our performance on Saturday was not up to scratch – when we had the ball, we didn’t do enough with it, and when we didn’t have the ball we made simple defensive errors, with the normally reliable Thomas Vermaelen particularly culpable.

It’s a bad result, but we were going to lose eventually.  The uproar and vitriol I’ve witnessed in the aftermath of this game suggests that, as with the long unbeaten run prior to Christmas, the winning streak has created a disproportionate degree of expectation considering the limitations of this team.  A few months ago we were praying for fourth; now we’re furious that Spurs have closed in on third.

Just as many were too quick to write us off in the face for the Champions League back in September, so too were we too swiftly heralded as the Premier League’s ‘third-place elect’.  The road until the end of the season is long and winding, and there will be several more bumps between now and May.  Good: I for one find it exciting.  And, remembering the disaster that was last summer, am very glad just to be in the mix.

I’ve been fairly consistent in saying that we’d finish fourth this year.  Looking at the respective fixture lists of ourselves, Tottenham and Chelsea, I see no reason to revise my prediction.  As I’ve said several times, considering the problems we’ve faced this season – many of which have been self-inflicted, I’ll admit – that would resemble some achievement.  As much as I’m enjoying laughing at Liverpool, it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to imagine that it could very easily have been us.

Of course, we should give it everything we have to finish third.  It’s still very much in our hands, and if we want to do it we need to avoid the complacency we displayed in the game at Loftus Road.  Some of the players seemed a little like they had begun to believe their own hype, whilst Robin van Persie is finally starting to look a little jaded – one can’t help but feel that earlier in the season he would have buried the one-on-one chance presented to him by Alex Song’s fine through-ball.  I was also a little bemused by the selection of Aaron Ramsey wide on the left – it was a ploy that had limited success at Everton, and seemed to backfire in a game where the attacking onus was with Arsenal.  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not started any of our last three games – a run I hope will end soon.

So it was a poor performance, and a poor result.  But it’s not the end of the world – nor, crucially, the end of our season.  Before the game I spoke of eight cup finals.  We lost the first won, but win the next against Man City and it will soon be forgotten.  Arsenal have plenty to play for, and I’m afraid slip-ups along the way are inevitable.  Don’t be fooled by unbeaten runs: this team are not the Invincibles.  They are, however, earning a reputation for being fairly unkillable: as soon as they’re written off, they find a way of coming back from the brink.  It’s a trait I can’t help but admire.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.

21 Comments

  1. A/S   •  

    ‘We lost the first won.’
    I see what you did there ..
    Lovely piece, though.

  2. Scooch   •  

    Well said. It does prove to me quite how moronic some Gooners can be. From being the greatest team to being a team of no hopers to someone even coming out on Twitter saying that Arsenal should refund the away supporters ticket cost!!!
    I’ve said it so many times this season. You need to support Arsenal. And that includes when you lose. We’d all like world class players on the field and on the bech, but we have to support the players we have now! It bores me that so many people think they because they can have a say on someones website that what they have to say is important! It’s not! I’ve pretty much stopped reading comments pages on Arsenal sites now as there are just too many halfwits with nothing interesting or productive to say. Including me!

  3. Top Cat   •  

    Normal service resumed for Wenger.
    Wenger has to be ran out of Arsenal

  4. A   •  

    Never commented before. But agree with the comment above regarding too many irrelevant people saying whatever comes to their minds. Its free, thats why.
    Arsenal’s performance on saturday wasnt the worst this season. Far from it, infact.

    • Top Cat   •  

      Thanks A. Wenger indeed is the problem

  5. Josh Tarrant   •  

    A winning streak always has to come to an end – but the next match is the perfect chance to prove that is was a one off and show the Arsenal are here to compete for the League next season.

    A victory against City will really throw down a marker as to how the club has grown over the season.

    Keep hold of the current squad – couple more key players and very easy be challengers for the title.

  6. Maverick   •  

    The problem is never with losing. You give 100% on the pitch and lose, I don’t think anybody will call the team no-hopers or call for heads to roll.
    You can defend dire performances, but not defend less than 100% commitment. I am not saying that physically they weren’t committed on saturday, but mentally Arsenal weren’t playing at Loftus road and that is not acceptable.
    Make mistakes and give 100% – No problem
    Not turn up – Big problem.

    One thing I have observed about Arsenal: Lots of players seem to play badly in the same match. Don’t know why.

    Arsenal need to get 1 more creative midfielder and 1 forward (Maybe Podolski is a done deal)

  7. Top Cat   •  

    Has anyone heard the rumour that Stevie Gerrard is close to signing for us

  8. Davey B   •  

    More spin from GS I see.

    The point of the matter GS, is that its always two steps back one step foward. I’ll tell you why that is….. because athletes with a weak mentality cant handle pressure situations. They will make a mistake/buckle under the pressure, then they have something to atone for. They lose their nerve under pressure so they almost have! to make their customary mistake and be fighting against the tide before they can actually play. This all comes down to a weak mentality. Mental strength cannot be taught either. Some people are just born winners. They excel under pressure, others capitulate. You think its a coincidence Arsenal players have in the past been found wanting when it comes to sticking their head in where it hurts on a rainy night and showing character when its most important? There are too many enigmas in the team. Talented players who cannot illicit the best from themselves on a consistent basis when put under pressure.

    People are more than right to criticize because as soon as we are put back into a pressure situation where there is some meaning to the game, we bottle it again. Is it a coincidence the team have been playing their best and we are out of all competitions?

    • WRINKLY VOYEUR   •  

      well….errrr…. it depends upon what you call “competitions”. I belieeeeeeve as well that the first trophy is to get 4th place

  9. shaun   •  

    spot on and this is why we have big problems it is attitude and mental strength that are missing in very large proportions in the team arsene has assembled and he bloddy well knows it …why do you think he bangs on about mental strength and every last drop is because they lack mental strength and very rarely do they give every last drop and that is a major issue and the one that upsets most arsenal fans the most … well I speak for myself really as you can take a team visibly giving there all and loosing no problem but when you see the likes of arsharvin and denilson casuly jogging back while usain bolt whoops sorry chris sammba motors past them …I mean that is just not right and show s a distinct lack of effort

    • supporter of arsenal - not wenger   •  

      well said davey b and shaun – absolutley right.

      and this is also why the best of our players always leave…even in the invincible era, i think players couldn’t quite believe how much they had acheived…like they didn’t want to extend the success (i blame wenger’s lack of ambition and hunger for that tho)

      like the team has an attitude of not wanting or (nice way of putting it) not KNOWING how to go from strength to strength

      look, when you see man u, they have won every single domestic cup you can win of recent (accept UEFA cup) and they still want more

      it is their desire…and again as the felloww knowlegable gunners above said ,ental strength is not taught and alot of our players do not genuinely have it…hence why vieira…henry…fabregas..nasri…even bentdner (who has mental strenght but no skill at all to go with) are either successful or seek success – aka winning mentality!!

  10. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    Has GS started censoring comments? I thought I’d commented a couple of times on this post before.

    • arsenalDheart   •  

      nah…is because you are annoying

  11. True Gunner   •  

    Priceless seeing Balotelli sent off!!! Totally deserved it what was it 1 red card foul + 7 yellow card offenses to finally get sent off!!! Fantastic ref!!!

    Also great seeing us above Spurs again.

  12. arsenalDheart   •  

    DESERVE WIN!!!

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