The way I see it - Manchester City v Arsenal

Last updated : 01 December 2009 By Jason Hogan

Whilst I was initially grateful for the fact that I didn't have a full blown hangover and I was feeling relatively okay physically, I looked out of my rain soaked double glazed kitchen window and the horror of what happened that evening before suddenly hit me once again. The weather almost seemed apt company for my mood.

Whilst staring blankly out of the window, I was initially trying to think about anything other than Sunday's game but that proved futile. In fact, after a while, there was a part of me almost wishing perversely that I did have a full blown hangover as I began revisiting the thoughts I had immediately after Sunday's game.

As well as being an Arsenal fan and a lover of football, I am also an avid watcher of Rugby Union. This summer's British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa was far and away the best sporting television I have had the pleasure to watch in many a year which is saying a lot for me personally given that I watch an awful lot of sport. The whole concept of that tour and the drama that unfolded on the pitch will live with me to the day I die. Anyway, I wistfully digress.

At this moment in time, I feel that the Arsenal are a little bit like the current Australian Rugby Union team. The Wallabies have a young, talented but largely inexperienced side that have actually been up here on tour in the Northern Hemisphere and they have had a mixed bag of results. They beat a rather hapless and hopeless England side and only last Saturday they gave Wales a walloping. But Ireland were able to salvage a 20-all draw against them and they were on the wrong end of a massive shock result at Murrayfield against the Scots.

As any Rugby Union fan will tell you, it is the Tri Nations series (against New Zealand and South Africa) that stands as the true barometer and benchmark not only for Australia but indirectly for everyone else in international rugby.

I watched every single game of that Tri Nation series through the late summer and although The Wallabies tasted momentary glory when they beat South Africa 22-6 in Brisbane, the fact was that they lost all of their other five games home and away to the other two sides.

What I learnt about Australia in their battles against the Big Two is that they were invariably very good between the 22 yard lines (rugby's equivalent to a penalty area if you like) but against both the All Blacks and the Springboks they didn't quite have enough in attack to really hurt either team often enough and they didn't have enough know-how in defence to thwart the opposition often enough either.

The uncanny parallels I see between us as a football team and The Wallabies as a rugby team were played out for all to see at The Grove where the Arsenal were given a sobering lesson in not only how to win football matches but also of where we, at Arsenal, are really at.

The harsh truth was that we didn't have the guts, the belief or the conviction to beat our opponents on Sunday and, as much as it pains me to say it, we were undone by a team that knew what they were doing as a team and went about their task with simple, effective, ruthless efficiency.

We were virtually a carbon copy of Australia. Decent enough between the penalty areas but woefully short of what was required in both penalty boxes and our uncertainty in both areas were in stark contrast to theirs.

In my household it's almost a designated duty of mine to pick up the papers. As usual I did that on Monday morning but to this very moment I haven't read a thing in them. The fact is there was nothing the press (nor the media for that matter) could say that will make me feel any worse than I do now.

There comes a time when you have to face facts. We are not good enough and, in terms of winning things, Wenger's determination to prove people wrong with his policies (financial restrictions notwithstanding) have been brutally exposed as being flawed.

In my listless post match mental state on Sunday night, I absent-mindedly switched on the beloved digital radio of my missus and found myself tuned in to BBC Five Live's radio phone in. Steve Claridge was co-presenting the show with Gabriel Marchotti. Interestingly, Claridge mentioned that he detected possible signs of a possible sea change at Arsenal given some of the comments made by Wenger over the last few days.

Well, whilst my head tells me not to hold my breath, my heart says I hope Claridge's instincts are right. There are things that need to change at the club and everyone at the club, least of all Wenger, really have to cut out all the bluster and all the rhetoric, start taking some action and turn the team back into a side that looks like winning things. I said that I wouldn't allow the defeat at Sunderland to get me all bent out of shape. But Sunday's defeat and in particular the humiliating manner of it has made me think again.

Obviously we are stuck with what we have right now but it is also obvious that what we have clearly does not work against top level opponents. Making personnel changes or additions are one thing but there is also a clear need for us to toughen up mentally. Because for my money, if there is any future repeat of Sunday's abject fiasco then going through another trophyless season will be the least of our worries.

I normally do not bother to do articles ahead of Carling Cup matches but such is the level of frustration coursing through me right now I couldn't keep it all in. So, whilst I'm here let's take a look at our second trip to Eastlands this season.

You can't exactly say that the wheels have fallen off at City entirely just yet but Mark Hughes and his team are definitely coming under scrutiny right now. Seven straight draws doesn't amount to a crisis as such but of course that stat is also a euphemism for seven games without a win. In terms of form, that is not what the doctor ordered for the ambitions of the world's richest club.

I heard an irate City fan on Sunday night on the radio bemoaning the merits of Lescott and Toure whilst making a rueful case for the recently departed Richard Dunne. The caller's perception was that Dunne was not only being missed but he was also mistreated at City. Well, having acquired a sneaky regard for Dunne over recent years I understood where the caller was coming from.

This game is fairly big for Arsenal in light of recent events but it is absolutely massive for City. The Sky Blue revolution suddenly doesn't seem as shiny, new and exciting as it did at the start of the season which from the outside looking in, doesn't honestly surprise me.

I always had question marks as to how City would react when the initial novelty of their "project" wore off and the earnest business of winning football matches week in and week out really kicked in. Our kids will go into this game with far less to prove than City's players and it will not good for them to be turned over by us in their own back yard.

November is coming to an end (thank God) and the run up to Christmas really begins to gather pace. Let's hope the youngsters can help to bring us some long overdue respite on the domestic front this Wednesday. Because if ever Arsenal supporters needed cheering up, it's now.