Are Arsenal really heading for crisis after two home defeats?
'Don't panic,' says Wenger, but the game against Liverpool this weekend is now vital
THE fragile foundations of Arsenal's footballing rennaisance, and the brittle confidence of their supporters, appear to have been exposed by two straight home defeats at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, last week in the Champions League, and Chelsea, last night in the Capital One Cup.
The results have prompted mutterings, but not panic, on some blogs and football forums. Jonathan Liew of the Daily Telegraph commented: "The old maxim that the Gunners are never more than three games away from a crisis could well be borne out this Saturday when they face in-form Liverpool at home."
Manager Arsene Wenger felt obliged to address the issue of what critics say is a lack of strength in depth at the Emirates, pointing out that Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski were all out injured.
He claimed that the goals that have sunk Arsenal in the last week were not down to fundamental problems with the squad, but simple errors that could be corrected. "It's difficult to swallow what happened to us in the last week," he said. "We have to keep the basis of our game and go into the next one.
"Let's not go too quick to conclusions," he added.
That next game, against Liverpool on Saturday evening, could now have huge ramifications.
The Times points out that in the last week, Arsenal have failed the "two toughest tests of the season" so far. "Wenger admits the meeting with Liverpool now assumes a greater significance as Arsenal look to prove their position in the league is not simply down to the kindness of the fixture list," adds the paper.
And it's not just Liverpool on the horizon. The Gunners travel to Dortmund next week, then face Manchester United at Old Trafford before welcoming Southampton, currently fifth in the table, after that.
It is a "sequence of fixtures that will prove to be telling", says The Guardian.
Chelsea may also have revealed the new-look Arsenal's Achilles heel, says website Football 365. "It appears that the Gunners have a problem playing teams who match them at their own game," it claims. When Arsenal had the ball they were guilty of "sterile domination" - an old Gunners failing.
Wenger "appeared as agitated as the Emirates crowd watching his team muster just a single shot on target against a Chelsea side who contained and countered with all the intelligence one would expect of a Jose Mourinho side", notes the website. ·