24th April 2016: Arsenal stutter at Sunderland as title chances officially ended

So it’s official. After we could only muster a goal-less draw at Sunderland this afternoon and a Jamie Vardy-less Leicester City beat Swansea 4-0 in today’s other Premier League game, we’re now mathematically out of the title race.

Given we’re four points adrift of second-placed Tottenham and they have played a game less, that’s the runner’s up spot all but gone now too. Manchester City remain third on goal difference and we’ve given Manchester United the opportunity to close the gap on us to just two points if they can win their game in hand. A disappointing season is now teetering on the brink of becoming a disastrous one and the sad thing is I’m not sure I’m that fussed.

I mean, unless we sign proven quality, and lots of it, in a dramatic overhauling of the squad this summer, I can’t see us making much of an impact in the Champions League next term anyway and the Europa League would surely offer a are realistic chance of silverware. It’s sad that I’m thinking this way I know, but my stance is the result of the complete and utter mess we’ve made of this season since the turn of the new year. Today’s game was the latest in a long line of matches that have left me resigned to a simple conclusion – we’re just not a very good team.

My main concern at the start of the season was our lack of cover for Francis Coquelin but as it’s turned out, the player who’s absence has cost us most this season in my opinion, is Santi Cazorla and today was no different. We missed the Spaniard’s passing, particularly as Mesut Ozil was off form by his standards today, guile and above all, creativity.

As I feared pre-match, Arsene Wenger decided to stick with his starting line-up from Thursday night and although I felt we had a decent opening period with Alex Iwobi firing a low shot just wide, overall, we looked as threatening as baby brandishing a balloon. Olivier Giroud was woeful upfront, but not helped by a lack of service, and Ramsey in central midfield is something I never, ever want to see again. Even if he was the only fit midfielder we had at the club I’d rather we played someone, anyone, else.

There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the futures of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – and you can understand why given their struggles in finding form this season – but none about Ramsey role moving forward. To my mind, he plays on the right or not at all and if Jack Wilshere can remain fit and/or we sign a Granit Xhaka or a N’Golo Kante this summer, I’m struggling to see why the Welshman deserves to get anywhere near the team next term. Which begs the question, should we keep him?

Personally, I’d rather we kept the Ox and gave him more time to prove himself as a central midfielder and instead moved Aaron on so he could play in his preferred central midfield position somewhere else. That may sound harsh but if we’re contemplating keeping Ramsey and selling the Ox, I think we’re crazy because the latter’s simply a better footballer, in any position.

That’s all for tonight folks.

See you next week.

 

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