03 March 2016

Would Alexis lead or would he leave?

There are dark times for Gooners, make no mistake. After losing to a makeshift side at Old Trafford last weekend, we could console ourselves with the notion that it was Old Trafford, after all. However, we followed that by succumbing at home to a similarly-ravaged Swansea side, and there's little if any consolation to be found there. For as much we might rage at Madley for ignoring the Mugging of Mesut at Midfield, the one that led to Routledge going through on goal to equalise, we have only ourselves to blame. We now face a do-or-die situation that lays waste to the difference between the figurative and literal meanings of the phrase. Into the breach steps Alexis Sánchez with words of warning.

After the loss to Swansea, Alexis offered those words:
I think we can win the Premier League with the players we have. That said, we lack a certain hunger. We need to step out onto the pitch as if we’re already 1-0 up. We lack self-belief, that we can actually be champions. I remember a game against Manchester United last year.The lads looked hungry for silverware as we took to the pitch. We crushed them in the first 20 minutes and went 2-0 up. We were hungry and brimming with confidence that day.
More than anything else, that confidence, that hunger, that self-belief, have been lacking of late. It traces back further than these last three results. There's no shame in losing to Barcelona, and the losses to Man U and Swansea are symptoms of a larger problem that has plagued us since the New Year. We've taken just 12 points from 33 since then. As a result, well, we are where we are—three points behind Tottenham ahead of the most-momentous North London Derby in twenty years. Win, and we're right back in the thick of the hunt. Lose, and not only do we face the bleak prospect of finishing below Tottenham for the first time since 1995, we might also have to confront a convulsive summer in which we might lose a talisman or two, not to mention a manager.

Alexis and Özil have contracts that run out in June 2018. Heck, Arsène's ends in June 2017. If we can't win the Prem this season, we might end up saying good-bye to one if not all three of them before those contracts end. I'm not ready to comtemplate what it might mean to go into a summer transfer-window having finished below Tottenham, seeing one or both of those players forcing a move, and witnessing the end of an era.

If those omens don't inspire sharp-edged pangs of hunger among the rest of the players in the squad, if they can't go into White Hart Lane knowing that victory is an absolute-must, craving and lusting after it like their lives depend on seizing it, well, we'll have to let the chips fall where they may and pray for the best. Alexis, for his part, twice struck woodwork against Swansea. Özil did the same once. They are among the few playing with the kind of pride and passion needed to win the Prem. If no one else in the XI on Saturday can rise to the occasion, there will be more than few post-mortems to pen.

Reports of our death, however, are greatly exaggerated.

What do you say? Can we win at White Hart Lane, or everything already done and dusted? Share your thoughts below the fold...