Here’s a strange fact about Arsenal. If the first half of matches were not counted at all, and we only took the result of the second half, Arsenal would be just two points behind the leaders, and challenging for the Premier League title.
If it were just first half displays, then the position of the club does not bear thinking about. (Well, ok, if you want to think, we would be 13th, or thereabouts.)
The problem is this first half failure is something that is getting to both the players and the fans. And it is something that is being widely commented upon in the highly critical blogs that seem to surround Arsenal.
As Mr Wenger himself said, “That can only be psychological because you do not become a good football player in the second half and you are bad in the first half.
“The team has certainly been deeply affected by all the negativity and as well by the fact they are highly focused to do well. Everyone of us is affected by criticism. I didn’t meet one person who loves to be slaughtered. The team want to do well. But sometimes that can be a bit inhibiting. I think it’s mainly down to that.”
Getting Arteta back in the squad plus the arrival of Monreal undoubtedly will help, but there is also no doubt that those who seem to enjoy being negative day after day are making matters worse through their criticisms.
Quite why there is this first half problem, I can’t say, but I suspect it is simply that the players start each game feeling bad about themselves, following another few days of rampant negativity in the blogs.
What I think many people don’t realise is that the players read the blogs and newspaper reports, as much as the fans. OK, no one can do anything about the newspapers and their eternal negativity, but the blogs are easier to influence. We need to be quite clear about negative blogs – they are harming Arsenal.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we should all say positive things all the time no matter what. Does it does mean that criticism should be tempered with some positive thoughts and comments.
After all, how would you feel if you found yourself being heavily criticised day after day after day at work?