The Gunners are now in fourth place, out of the Champions League places, and six points behind league leaders Manchester United.
It will be a fight to get back into the Champions League spots, considering the current team’s form. City are three points ahead, but have played a game more.
Chelsea are five points clear with the same number of games played, so we are very unlikely to catch them up. United are six points clear but we have a game in hand.
If the team was firing on all cylinders, I don’t think there would be any doubt about catching City and United, but with the current set of recent results, there are certainly some questions to be asked performance-wise.
The cup results have been great: 9-0 against fourth-tier Leeds is fine. Defeating Villa 3-0 in the Conti Cup quarter-finals and then City 1-0 after extra time to reach the final is great.
But the League results since the restart have been disappointing: a 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea, a 0-0 draw away to West Ham, and a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City.
No league wins in 2023 so far. Two points out of a possible nine. Alarm bells must be ringing loud at the club.
There is no need to look for scapegoats. At the end of the day, the coaching staff and the players are in it together and the fans should back up the team instead of having a go at players for trivial things like the Brit Awards.
Certainly, the players should have clapped the fans post-game instead of going straight to the dressing room. But some fans seem to enjoy giving them grief for trivial things.
Now the manner of the defeat was a surprise considering the club used a back three on both occasions against City. Clearly, Manchester City adapted their game plan to counter the Arsenal 3-4-3 that worked in the Continental Cup semi-finals.
But you have to wonder why things went so badly, especially in the first half. To wonder why the players didn’t stick to the game plan and gave the ball away too often.
You can find some of the answers from Jonas Eidevall to Tim in the post-match press conference. One sentence particularly springs to mind: “But that is my responsibility, to find out how we can position earlier and take up better positions and play away from pressure and turn that into strength.”
I think he is very protective of the players who did not perform well. If he did not prepare them to face a high press during the game, this is a big problem.
The game reminds me of the Champions League against Barcelona last season, where the team struggled against the high press from the Spanish team. As previously mentioned last season, Arsenal trained against the men’s Academy team to prepare against high-pressing teams and those situations, where the decision-making process is sped up.
It’s key to find out and understand why the players were unable to sort out their problems on the pitch. During the game, the manager has a limited impact and cannot micro-manage what the players are doing. They need to take ownership of the situations and find solutions.
The decision-making has to improve, it has to be better and quicker. Players need to give options to the ball holder, off the ball movement must be better. This is certainly practiced in training and needs to be reproduced during games.
If the team wants to compete for trophies at the highest level, there is a step up that needs to happen. Otherwise, it could end up with another trophy-less season and no Champions League qualification.
We know the strength of our team is pressing the opposition, using our players’ speed and ability to break the lines to go behind the opposition’s defense. It is clear from the players’ profiles that have been recruited.
But I think, it has come to the detriment of building up attacking football from the back. We saw the team can do it without a problem against a weaker opposition like Leeds in the FA Cup. Attacking-wise, the team was perfectly positioned in 2-3-5 with the inverted full-backs and players trying to float between lines and in the half-spaces.
You need technically strong players on the ball, who can also keep hold of it and anticipate the movement from their teammates and the opposition. I don’t think we had enough of those on the pitch on Saturday.
Injuries have taken their toll and you would think that with Miedema and Wälti, the team would have made better use of the ball.
There are so many factors that explain why so many players had a day off on Saturday and it ended up with a defeat that probably kills our title hopes.
Things will need to be rectified quickly and we probably now need to win our ten remaining league games to be in with a title shout, unless Chelsea manage to get 100% results at the same time.
The international break has come at the right time for the players to get back with their National teams and a different environment.
Providing that no one comes back injured, the FA Cup tie away to Chelsea will be the first big test for the hopefully-improved Arsenal Women.