We have plumbed depths so deep in recent years that is difficult to be embarrassed as an Arsenal fan these days.
But, if there is one lesson we have all learned as Gooners over the years, it’s that you should never underestimate the ability of this team to surprise you, for better or, more likely, for worse.
Sunday’s FA Cup humiliation at Forest was just another example in an endless slew of examples of utter incompetency of the like only Arsenal seem capable of producing so regularly.
It doesn’t seem to matter if we field our first team, second team, reserve team, or kids team – we simply cannot defend. So woeful is our setup that even a Championship side struggling as badly as Forest was able to rain down eight shots on our goal, scoring four.
Conceding that many shots against any side, at any level, is not acceptable.
Arsene Wenger has neglected his defence in favour of attack for too long. It cannot go on. If Steve Bould and Boro Primorac do not want to challenge the boss on this glaring shortcoming, they should resign, otherwise what are they for?
The entire backroom staff need to sit down as a matter or urgency and rectify what has become such a laughable weakness that second-tier clubs are capable of making us look pathetic.
Sure, Arsenal games are always fantastic entertainment for the neutral. I’m sure the TV companies are queuing up to broadcast any Arsenal match they can get their hands on. For the fans who are forced to suffer through such abject performances, however, the reality outside of the entertainment bubble is excruciating.
We have become a meme of a club. A club that teams look forward to playing because they know they will get their chance.
Everything about the Nottingham Forest match was makeshift. While I have no problems with the lineup, which featured a number of second string and youth players (as it should at this stage), the way they went about their business was ill-disciplined and chaotic.
The gaping chasm in the centre of midfield was so vast you could have held a music festival in it and the disconnect between our defence and midfield was so vast they may as well have been from different universes.
How a coach as experienced and knowledgeable as Wenger can allow such shortcomings to fester on every week is beyond me. He can see exactly what we see and yet he appears to do nothing about it. If anything, our incompetence has worsened as the weeks have gone on. Where are we heading as a club?
Are we really going to have to wait until April, until a fresh crisis at the club, before the manager is begrudgingly forced into doing something about the woeful level of performance at the back?
Defeats happen, cup shocks happen, teams underperform all the time, but something is so rotten about the way Arsenal set up that it happens too often to be misfortune. The defeats are too heavy to be simply the odd bad day at the office.
And this is not a problem exclusive to the second string, the first team have shown themselves equally adept at calamity, only their greater quality protects them from more regular beatings.
Today, Rob Holding – a hitherto exciting young talent – had what was possibly the worse game of his life. Nothing went for him and there is no telling what damage this would have done to him mentally.
Per Mertesacker failed in his duty to bring the team together, to organise, and to dig in when the going got tough. Theo Walcott’s head was already at Everton, or Southampton, and he played some truly Theo-level football as a result– regressive, aimless, and wasteful.
Alex Iwobi has disappointed for a long time now and today was no different. He is in real danger of wasting his talent unless he can iron out the deficiencies in his game – particularly the terrible finishing and final ball delivery.
In short, almost everybody on the pitch was poor and should be told as much by the manager, who should then sit down and reflect on where his is taking this club because, when all is said and done, this defeat rests with the manager.
Too many players have come and gone and too many systems have been tried for this type of result and performance to be a freak occurrence. The Frenchman is the only constant in this equation and drastic action is needed.
Either he sorts the defensive issues in this team out as a matter of urgency, or the atmosphere around the club is going to turn very ugly very quickly.
It is only January and patience has long since worn out.