Thomas Partey cut a forlorn figure walking off the pitch following his dismissal in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg defeat against Liverpool recently, and it signaled yet another disappointment in the recent history of the former Premier League champions.
Although the North London club saw their chances of silverware slipping away for another year, as if that wasn’t bad enough, it also showed a problem clearly vs. Liverpool that has been nagging away at them for more than two years.
Arsenal’s inability to curb their tendency to be rash in their decision-making on the field has been a real thorn in their side. Although The Gunners’ Ghanaian midfielder could be forgiven for being a little tired and mistiming his tackles after returning from the African Cup of Nations just 48 hours before kick-off, the fans offered little sympathy inside the Emirates Stadium.
Partey’s dismissal was all too familiar; it was the third dismissal in as many weeks leaving Mikael Arteta’s team once again finishing a game with ten men.
In the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against The Reds, Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka suffered the same fate. Also, in their 2-1 home defeat to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City on New Year’s Day, Brazilian defender Gabriel was shown two yellow cards in quick succession, with one of them for dissent.
Despite the fact, The Gunners weren’t among the front runners to win the title at the start of this season after only finishing 8th last term.
Now, they’re lagging further behind following their recent misdemeanors and defeats as the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City are way ahead of them in the race for the Premier League title according to the latest Ladbrokes football odds.
So does it serve as an accurate indication of how much damage a lack of discipline is having on any lingering thoughts Arsenal may have of success?
Although 14 red cards in just over 100 games during Arteta’s tenure may not seem a massive number, it hits home when you compare it to Southampton, the second-highest offenders when it comes to dismissals. The Saints have received just eight red cards; almost half the Gunners have been shown in the same period.
However, amongst all the anguish felt in the stadium at the moment of The Gunner’s latest sending off, it provided a moment of clarity for their manager, Mikael Arteta, as he realized what needs to do now for the club to progress in the future.
Speaking to the assembled press following the defeat to Liverpool, CNN reported that Arteta said things would have to change.
“We have to learn from that. Over the last three games, we have had to play with ten men, and this is very bad because it makes us very exposed,” He said.
“We have to stop the mistakes and work on being more competitive. We want to return to our winning ways and make sure we end matches with 11 players.”
Hearing that will be music to the ears of Arsenal supporters, knowing that their manager is looking to act now. With over a third of the Premier League season still to go, there is plenty of time to arrest the indifferent form and disciplinary issues, allowing them to resurrect their fortunes, thus cementing a finish in the top six. If they manage that, they will get back into Europe next season, which would undoubtedly be an early indication of better days being around the corner once again.