The longest goal drought in 14 years, is Champions League happening next season?

It was the same old story at Ashburton Grove yesterday, Arsenal showed sparks of their potential against Fulham, but ended with another 0-0 draw and just a point to show. I am seriously worried about qualifying for the Champions League now. With 11 games left we are 5th, Villa are 5 points ahead, with a game in hand tomorrow, that could be an 8 point gap. Not what you want this late in the day.

The team don’t seem to be able to grab the late goals we have depended on to pull us through hard games in the past. In the last few minutes this week against Fulham, and last against Sunderland we just allowed them to play the ball around, when we need to attack.

This is the worst season under Arsene Wenger, and he said on MOTD that he is concerned about Champions League qualification, he should be. We are unlucky that we have a lot of crucial players injured, but our poor form at the back end of 2008 is now catching up with us.

It seems that this team can either create goals but concede too many, or keep a tight defence but score none. The club has been through a very, very turbulent season, a glance at the line-ups this year hints at that, and Wenger is struggling to keep the boat from capsizing. I think he has managed to get us into calmer waters, the defence is not leaking goals, but the attack has dried up.

I’m just hoping we can really start our season now. I know it’s a confidence thing, if we can get some goals, get Arshavin to gel, plus Ade, Fabregas, Eddy, Rosicky and Theo all back, then we can push on and start taking points, but 4th place is still a huge challenge. I don’t want to be unrealistic, so lets just say that it can happen in if the team gels, and we start scoring goals.

I respect Wenger’s policies and I think he is having to rebuild this season after shoddy foundations (i.e. Gallas as captain) were exposed this year. We will improve and get better, but I hope that Wenger has learned serious lessons from what has gone wrong this season.

Almunia points to fear factor as Arsenal look to improve home form against Fulham

This is a guest post by sportswriter Thomas Rooney

As we all know, Arsenal’s form at the Emirates Stadium hasn’t been brilliant of late. Three of the last six Premier League games there have been drawn, with the Gunners only managing to find the net on four occasions along the way.

So, what is this down to? Well, Manuel Almunia has admitted that some of the Arsenal players feel under more pressure playing at home than they do away at the moment.

After last weekend’s draw at home to Sunderland, some sections of the crowd booed, venting their frustration at being unable to break the deadlock.

It is a frustration that comes on the back of Arsene Wenger’s men not being able to manage more than one home goal in a league game since defeating Manchester United 2-1 back in November.

Speaking about the situation, Almunia has said how a number of the players ‘feel under more pressure’ at the moment because the team ‘is not winning’.

The goalkeeper went on to say that because the players know that the ‘fans deserve more than 0-0 scores’; this builds the pressure on the team when they try and break opposing teams down. He says that the attacking players are ‘spending a bit more time’ on getting their shot away.

As for how the team can rectify this, starting against Fulham tomorrow, Almunia believes that they need to find a ‘nice balance’ that results in Arsenal being ‘tight at the back but get the goals.’ That is the idea Manuel, yes!

The next game where Arsenal can search for this balance, as already mentioned, is against Fulham tomorrow. It is a must-win game if the Gunners are going to start closing the gap on Aston Villa in 4th place and another draw simply isn’t good enough.

Roy Hodgson’s side are hard to beat these days though and will fancy their chances of being the latest team to frustrate Arsenal at the Emirates.

Hopefully though, Arsenal will take their chances and cruise to a comfortable win. That would be exactly what the players, coaching staff and fans need right now. How about Andrei Arshavin grabbing his first goal as well? Perfect.

As far as team news is concerned, Abou Diaby will miss the game after injuring his calf against Roma on Tuesday. Elsewhere, there appears to be no fresh concerns for Wenger as his team look to stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games.

Toothless Arsenal cause doubts at the Cottage (plus video highlights)

Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage yesterday was one of the poorest Arsenal games I have seen in a long time.

The line up didn’t really suprise me due to lack of midfield options, but I knew life would be hard for us when I saw Denilson and Eboue lining up in central midfield.

Nasri Eboue Denilson Walcott, it isn’t a title winning line up. I know Fabregas is out, and Diaby too, but even then the squad looks worryingly thin, all we had on the bench as cover was Ramsey and Wilshere. Eboue isn’t a central midfielder, and Denilson was out of his depth, he made a lot of bad mistakes.

We lacked the quality in the squad to replace injured players, and we desparately need a new centre mid. We ended up with RVP playing there and Bendtner and Adebayor up front.

The defence and attck however was the first choice team, and we looked worryingly toothless, we couldn’t string passes together, we weren’t tackling, crosses were misplaced, runs were mistimed. Schwarzer had 1 easy save to make all afternoon.

To make matters worse, Gallas’ awful marking at a corner allowed that new Fulham guy to get a leg in and score.

I know when Cesc is back in the squad things will be different, but we can’t rely on one guy, we seem to have lost a lot of defensive qualities in midfield (Diarra, Flamini, GIlberto) and creative qualities (Hleb). We need a new signing now, and the Boss needs to have a think about how the team will shape up for the season.

Arsene told the press:

“We were not sharp enough in the first half, and our passing was certainly not as good as we expect it to be. I don’t know why,

Of course it is a setback. But the result is there, and we have to make up for it by winning the next match. We have a big game on Wednesday in the Champions League and need to improve.

“We paid a big price for the mistake on their goal. We should be able to cope with a corner when it comes in at low level like that.”

It’s only one loss, and we aren’t out of anything, but last year we finished 4 points off the top, we dropped 3 today and I hope we don’t regret it.

Click here for the highlights.

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