They are playing for pride , nothing more than that. The 3-0 drubbing Arsenal received at the hands of Manchester City now means that they only have the Europa league in reserve.
Arsenal’s ambitions of a top four finish look highly improbable and the way they lost to City doesn’t inspire confidence from even the most optimistic , die hard supporter.
In the context of the season , another defeat seems to hardly matter. It has no baring on a disastrous season and will not influence the outcome when the competition concludes in May.
It’s been yet another shocking campaign , where the clubs remaining ambitions have virtually unraveled in the space of three months.
Three months where key games have been lost and points have been squandered and when the dust settles , matters need to be addressed to ensure that next season is one where Arsenal fans can look forward rather than backwards.
Where there can be some progression rather than regression but that seems an awfully long way off after the result on Sunday.
Football is a relentless game , where results are king and failures have consequences.
We don’t know what those consequences might be yet and even if Arsenal went on to win the Europa League , one suspects it won’t be enough to distract anyone from the obvious repercussions.
A team can lose and lose they do, but it’s the manner of how they lose in many respects that counts.
A fluke goal , a half chance or a poor decision are all much easier to swallow than being annihilated and outclassed in a game.
That type of narrow defeat gives fans some consolation but when a team is out played to such an extent, it’s a blow that can spiral into a crisis and Arsenal have had more than their share of those this season.
The question is , can Arsenal find a way back from that loss ? Can they give a better account of themselves and restore pride because that’s all that’s left.
If Arsenal are to win so quickly after that resounding defeat they will need all the big players to bring their ‘A’ game.
The spirit will have to improve a thousand percent if they are to snuff out the threat of the premier league winners elect.
The fact is that City didn’t have an outstanding game , they didn’t even hit their usual stride . It was an efficient performance and nothing more but it was more than enough to beat an incredibly poor Arsenal side and Wenger will have to shuffle his pack to provide a different result.
How he must have wished he could have summoned Walcott off the bench purely for the threat of pace or the Ox to mix things up a bit.
Hell , he must even have thought about Lucas Pérez whom lasted around 20 games before being dispatched elsewhere.
These are the sorts of things that nightmares consist of , when faced with the dilemma ‘would have , could have , should have’ but it doesn’t matter now.
Xhaka remains an inconsistent ingredient , his ability to solve the holding midfielder riddle , seems to be in the minus column.
He’s not the only one who is under the proverbial microscope. Ramsey’s form fluctuates from one full of ambition and endeavour to that of a disinterested bystander.
Up front Wenger has Aubameyang, the only other recognisable option is Welbeck because of Lacazette’s injury and that doesn’t bode well for the Europa league.
Welbeck is not a proven goal scorer , he rarely is explosive in the box and his touch constantly let’s him down.
Perhaps Wenger will persist with the former United striker on the wing against City.
It’s at the back where the club has the most problems , they are so vulnerable that a goalless draw would be viewed as a win under the circumstances.
I’d try Kolsasinac in the centre of defence with Mustafi. Kolasinac has a physical competitive edge and if we are going to use players out of position , why not.( City Vs Arsenal In Carabao Cup Final)
He could always recall Mertesacker and ask him for one more outstanding contribution but Father Time is breathing heavily in his ear and in a game where pace will be key , he may fair badly.
Elneny could replace Ramsey and sit in the middle with Xhaka but it’s not an ideal pairing.
Mkhitaryan will be in contention and will at least take some of the creative pressure off Ozil and Wilshere, but he has only been involved in a few games and expecting too much from him may prove pointless.
If Arsenal lose on Thursday it will be seen as the inevitable , whereas a win would be viewed as unlikely and even miraculous, but a gutsy draw would be welcome , just to give the manager and his side some breathing space but for how long ?
Thursday will be about application and resolve , that’s a test Arsenal must win. It can’t be another drubbing at the hands of a club that could potentially dominate the league for the next 5 years.( Ramsey Vs Manchester City / Getty)
It can’t be a lacklustre affair for Arsene Wenger’s sake because the banners are being loaded into the backs of cars as we speak. Even the pro Wenger brigade are starting to lose their voice and faith in the man they once sang about on the terraces and waved placards declaring ‘ In Wenger we trust’
If Sunday is repeated , one suspects Wenger will know his own fate at the end of next season , if not before.
He is peering ominously down the barrel of a gun and wondering if it’s loaded. He needs his players to perform to the Arsenal blueprint and salvage something from a season of mediocrity. He can only pick the best he has available but they may still not be good enough.