Arsenal: Not quite time for the revisionism 1

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC

And here come the anti-Wenger armies, marching towards the narrative with all too apparent glee.

Arsenal were not good on Saturday, and they were left bewildered and beaten at Anfield by an extremely aggressive Liverpool. It’s not possible to sugar-coat a 5-1 loss, and neither is it really credible to extract any positives from the game, but it would be equally foolish to ignore the context either side of this stand-alone result.

The fans will be hurting and most of those who made the journey to Merseyside will feel humiliated, but that doesn’t warrant the kind of overreaction that is all over the internet this morning - nor does it validate the many, many articles which begin with ‘Arsenal may only be one point off the top of the table, but…’

It’s a significant ‘but’.

There’s no single reason which explains this weekend’s capitulation, but there are two very sure conclusions: Liverpool are not usually that good, and Arsenal are seldom that bad. Whilst not dismissing the game as a meaningless anomaly, the manner in which it began was highly-unusual and essentially rendered the visitor’s tactical-planning completely redundant.

I’m not trying to be an apologist or provide Arsenal fans with flimsy excuses, but it’s not fair to re-evaluate a team based purely on a twenty-minute period and the inevitably inflated scoreline that it produced. Interestingly, although Everton were recently punished just as brutally and just as swiftly by Liverpool, nobody seems in quite as much of a hurry to diminish Roberto Martinez’s work to-date - and nor should they be.

All of a sudden Arsenal are flimsy and suspect, and myriad issues exist throughout the team - everyone ‘knew’ this was coming and a defeat of this severity was inevitable. It’s just not true; Arsenal are the same side they were on Friday morning, albeit one with depleted self-belief. They sit between Chelsea and Manchester City in the table and have led both sides for the vast majority of the season, one loss - no matter how large - does not asterisk that reality.

Football seasons aren’t built on single results, they are defined by sequences and reactions to events. Just as the North London derby defeat last year didn’t end the season, a loss to Liverpool isn’t reason in itself to pack-up and go home just yet.

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