Cech’s embarrassing 61st-minute error gifted Jordan Ayew a second-half winner. But it was just the latest on a long list of the club’s ailments. Cech wasn’t the only player who added to that list on Tuesday either.
The Gunners, for significant portions of the evening, were outplayed by the Premier League’s basement dwellers. They went ahead against the run of play, but coughed up the lead within a minute. They were lethargic and loose in possession. They seemed to lack focus and mental sharpness. The buildup to Cech’s gaffe was emblematic of their nonchalance.
The list of ailments extends off the pitch as well. It includes lingering transfer uncertainty, especially after Olivier Giroud, reportedly off to Chelsea to make way for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, entered as a substitute with 15 minutes remaining. Giroud reportedly holds the final key to Arsenal’s biggest purchase ever. And yet there he was, toiling away in Wales, searching unsuccessfully for an equalizer.
Arsenal, over the past 12 months, has taken just 26 points from 23 matches away from home. Its goal differential in that span is -7. It has now dropped points in five consecutive away games. It is astoundingly toothless.
Its last road victory came at Crystal Palace more than a month ago, and came courtesy of Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez, of course, is no longer at the club. Part of the replacement plan, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, debuted off the bench Tuesday, but was ineffective. And remarkably, with deadline day approaching, the rest of that replacement plan isn’t yet in place.
And so the downward spiral continues. Arsenal may yet get Aubameyang. It probably will. But he won’t solve the problems that plague the Gunners. No single player could possibly handle such a gargantuan task.
A 33rd-minute goal momentarily hid some of them on Tuesday. Mesut Ozil floated in a cross, and goalscoring defender extraordinaire Nacho Monreal stabbed it home at the back post:
But, true to form, Arsenal held its lead for just one minute. Its defense parted, with Granit Xhaka inexplicably rooted to the spot, and Sam Clucas darted in behind to fire past Cech.
Then came the Cech error in the second half. And finally Clucas’ second. In between, there was Arsenal possession, but no end product, and loads of mistakes. This is what the Arsenal identity has become.
More to come shortly.
Other Premier League scores
West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace (FT)
Huddersfield 0-3 Liverpool (’85)
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