Saturday, 13 December 2008

Consistent in our Inconsistency

If I want to clutch at straws, you could view this as one point gained, since last year we lost at The Riverside. Couple that with three straight defeats there proceeding this result, and you could argue that it's not a bad result. Indeed, the top 4 as a whole have struggled to win at Boro in recent years. And as Arsenal fans we should like Middlesbrough - there are many mid-table teams who have spent a lot of money, but Boro aren't one of them: they've invested in youth just like Arsenal and Gareth Southgate is a good young manager.

And some of that isn't clutching at straws - some of it represents a great truth of a Premiership season which is closer than ever. I'm gonna stick my neck out here: the Premiership will be won with fewer than 80 points this season.

But, none of this countenances Wenger's post-match comments today. He said:
"Today was a game we would have lost at the start of the season. But now we have a better defensive balance and we are more of a team."

That just fundamentally isn't true. The truth is, that what's keeping us in touch at the top of the table is our early-season form which sent us top of the league for a couple of weeks. The reason we drew today is because this team hasn't played as fluently since the Spurs result. In patches we've been good. But we haven't been able to string results together. When was the last time we won three straight premier league games? - September. My problem with that isn't that it won't win us the league, because that was always unlikely. The problem, is that that represents Uefa Cup form. Keep up our current form and we won't qualify for the Champions League - unless we win it.

So for the manager to heap praise on a result like this is wrong, because it makes the players think it's alright. Sure, there's been unrest at this club in recent weeks, but every club has problems. Chelsea were top of the league yet if you believe the media Scolari's job was in the balance for 70 minutes on Tuesday night. But, at least other clubs are trying to solve their problems. If we don't fix our team in the short-term, there may be a long-term cost.

I'll expound more on this tomorrow.

'Till then,

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