Arsenal’s fan unrest from last season appeared to be going away after an impressive run of results at the start of the current campaign but defeat against Watford on a chilly Saturday evening at Vicarage Road showed that it is going to be a long slog for Arsene Wenger’s men again this term.
Chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing!’ and ‘We want Wenger out!’ could be heard among the Gunners faithful as the full-time whistle went at the end of a 2-1 loss and memories immediately flashed back to the vocal protests from the trying 2016-17 campaign.
Social media has amplified supporter opinion and there is no longer any hiding for players or managers who don’t perform – and it will be of no consolation to Wenger that his Arsenal side should have been out of sight before Watford equalised and subsequently went on to score a late winner.
In fact, it will merely compound his sense of frustration. Alex Iwobi and Mesut Ozil both missed gilt-edged opportunities to put Arsenal two goals clear and the lack of incisiveness will come as a worry to Wenger, who thought he had found the perfect goal getter in summer signing Alexandre Lacazette.
The decision to omit Alexis Sanchez from the squad due to his travails with Chile was partly down to the mental and physical effects of his country's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, yet the 28-year-old would have been nailed on to bury those aforementioned chances if he started the game.
Furthermore, when Wenger decided to sell Wojciech Szczesny in the summer transfer window, it was a decision met with some frustration from many Arsenal fans.
The Polish shot-stopper had fallen out of favour with the manager following his smoking in the changing-room showers after a defeat at St Mary’s Stadium and he was subsequently sent out on loan for two seasons to Roma, where he was statistically one of the best goalkeepers in Europe last season.
Three months later, Arsenal are in a familiar position at the start of the season where they are conceding penalties and looking vulnerable defensively following a series of injuries at the back. Troy Deeney’s successful spot-kick against the Gunners at Vicarage Road was the 12th in all competitions that Petr Cech has failed to save for Arsenal.
The cold hard truth is that Wenger should consider signing a new goalkeeper as a replacement for a player who looks past his sell by date.
The Frenchman took several months before deciding to sign a two-year contract extension and perhaps the better decision would have been to walk away from a club which has been stale for over a decade because even though Wenger will never admit that he made the wrong decision, the fans will certainly continue to let him know that they feel he did.