A defence punished by individual errors, a midfield without the ability to control a game, a forward line starved of chances.
So much has changed in the world in the last 3 months , so little has changed on the football pitch.
Away to Manchester City was always going to be a tough re-start for the 2019/20 season.
Prior to the suspension for Covid19, Arsenal were showing a bit of form.
Unbeaten in the league in 2020, only Liverpool had gained more points in the previous 6 games. But Arsenal had not won at the Etihad since 2015 and victory on Wednesday night made it 7 wins in a row for Abu Dhabi sportswashing project.
Since Sheikh Mansour bought the club back in 2008, Arsenal have lost 15 of the 29 meetings between the clubs. Prior to his purchase, it was 15 defeats in 107 games; a run dating back to 1936.
It was a terribly predictable performance from Arsenal. One which could have been a replay from many games under Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger.
A solid start, followed by individual errors at the back, ending in another defeat on the road to a top team.
The performance of David Luiz was almost as predictable as Arsenal.
How often throughout the Brazilian’s career – for Arsenal, Chelsea and Brazil – has he made a huge clanger in a game, and then followed it up with a second one?
Back in October, Arsenal faced Liverpool. 1-0 down but in the game. Luiz allowed Salah to get inside him, and then decided to pull the Egyptian down. Penalty. Goal. 2-0. Game over.
Whilst Manchester City were dominating, we were holding firm going into injury time of the first half.
Mikel Arteta’s decision to sacrifice creativity for hard work seemed to be working – and thanks to some good saves from Berd Leno, it was 0-0. Then Luiz – who had coem on for the injured Pablo Mari, let a ball slip past him and Raheem Sterling but the home side 1-0 up.
6 minutes into the second half and Luiz let Riyad Mahrez give him the slip, and then decided to pull him down. Penalty. Red card. Goal. Game over.
After that, the match became a training session. Manchester City passing the ball around with zero threat from Arsenal, but not overly looking to threat themselves.
A late Phil Foden goal in 2nd half injury time was the cherry on the cake.
Despite losing 3-0, Arsenal were not actually that bad defensively.
Leno, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi and Kieran Tierney were all having good games. They were let down by the clown between them.
With Granit Xhaka and early victim to injury, Arsenal were completely overun in midfield. It was literally men against boys.
Matteo Guendouzi + Joe Willock v Kevin de Bruyne + David Silva.
It was like putting Tyson Fury in the ring with someone who had only recently turned pro. It was a complete miss match.
In de Bruyne and Silva, Man City had 2 world class players. In Guendouzi and Willock Arsenal had 2 average players.
During the game someone asked me “what Arsenal players would get into the Manchester City team”. The answer was “none”.
You get what you pay for.
Manchester City spend over £80million a year on salaries than Arsenal. Over a 30 man first team squad, that is an average of £50,000 a week more.
The more you have available to pay on players, the better players you can attract. That is fact.
Man City pay 2 players over £300,000 a week (reportedly). Arsenal just 1. They pay 4 players above £200,000 a week compared to Arsenal’s 2. 6 players get paid above £150,000 a week against Arsenal’s 3.
11 Manchester City players are paid above £120,000 a week – basically their starting XI. Just 5 Arsenal players are paid above that.
Put simply, for every player Arsenal have within a wage bracket, Manchester City have two. And this pattern continues until you drop below £80,000 a week. Arsenal dominate the lower paid positions.
You can not expect to compete for the top 2 places on a consistent basis when you only pay the 5th highest wage bill.
The lack of control in midfield, meant that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka were starved of the ball.
In games like last night, it must be very hard for strikers to remain motivated.
It would not be a surprise if last night was to be the last time we see David Luiz in an Arsenal, shirt. And as for Mesut Ozil, that is a blog for another day.
Tomorrow we go again away to Brighton. It would have been a great trip a month ago when we had 28c weather. A quick train to the seaside and plenty of beer.
Hopefully we get the enjoyment of a victory to replace the disappointment of a top trip stolen.
As supporters of AFC, can we start building the pressure on KSE, in the hope that they sell up? I’m finding it increasingly difficult to watch my boyhood local team slip so low. We don’t have any shares in the club, so the only thing we can do is keep the pressure up and vote with our feet. How about starting with a letter, signed by all major fan groups, outlining the facts in lack of investment and poor management, compared to our main rivals. Then, also threatening a boycott of games and merchandise. It’s the only possible way any real action will be taken.