Gunners fans have become associated with certain chants in recent years such as ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’, and ‘boring, boring Arsenal’, more often sung by frustrated away supporters.
Nowadays, those phrases have quite different meanings with the modern day Arsenal gaining an embarrassing reputation for throwing games away.
In their last two games, the Gunners have spectacularly blown chances to make up ground in the Champions League and Premier League, due to their own slack defending. Their inability to see games out is as painful to watch as seeing Arsene Wenger struggle with the zip on his trench coat.
If a rousing chorus of ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ began with Wenger’s current XI, you would expect the opposition to be the more motivated, sensing the vulnerability at the back. Neither are Arsenal ‘boring’, rather highly entertaining and occasionally slapstick.
Many supporters were raised watching the tough tackling, hardworking backline that helped Arsenal to three Premier League titles at the beginning of the Wenger era, such as Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Nigel Winterburn. There was also Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour to contribute, adding to a formidable defensive unit.
The current crop couldn’t be more different from some of those legends. For years now Arsenal have been poor defensively, conceding eight to Manchester United, six to Chelsea, four to Spurs and Newcastle, and three to Anderlecht.
Injuries have become so constant that Nacho Monreal has been forced to start, which is bad enough, but out of position at centre-back. Calum Chambers has also been dire this season, but escapes blame due to him being young and English.
Throwing away winning positions has not just happened during the past week, it is becoming part of the culture at Arsenal. The squad and pundits can analyse the mistakes, but to lose a lead twice in a week shows a greater underlying defect within the club.
Wenger knows he has a problem, but the issue has hung around for a while now, as has the Frenchman. The reluctance of his players to change that against sides Arsenal should comfortably beat is proof that Wenger’s influence is fading. One FA Cup in 8 years is not testament to progress, as the club have not moved forwards in the Premier League or Champions League since.
Winning the trophy has done nothing to improve the modern day Arsenal, and even their Wembley performance showed how vulnerable they can be when it matters. The Emirates has become a buffet with teams coming to steal a point or three, much changed from the sterner years when Highbury was a maximum security fortress. Whenever Wenger leaves Arsenal, his legacy will surely be a mixed one.