I stared at a blank page for a while before diving into this one. There are only so many ways to say Arsenal put in a disappointing performance where they struggled to generate much attack, and I think I’ve used them all. So I’ll just use that one again. Arsenal put in a disappointing performance against Wolves, didn’t generate much of an attacking threat from open play, and lost 2-1. There’s not much else to be said.
I’ll refer you to a my postgame Twitter thread for my thoughts on Arsenal, and I’ll give you the TL:DR version here. Arsenal are not in a good place. It’s not going to get better soon. Buckle in because it’s going to take a lot of patience and multiple transfer windows to set things right.
The most concerning thing about today’s match was Arsenal’s handling of the David Luiz head injury. The centerback was involved in a nasty clash of heads with Raul Jimenez, who looked to have been knocked unconscious and was taken straight to the hospital. Fortunately, the word on the Wolves striker is that he regained consciousness at the hospital and was responding to treatment.
Luiz suffered a bad cut on his head that bled through the makeshift bandage the Arsenal medical staff fashioned. He remained in the game and looked tentative on both of Wolves’ goals. He was taken off at halftime. After the match, Mikel Arteta said that he was okay and that he passed all the necessary tests and that the severity of the cut forced him off. Sure, whatever. I have no reason to believe or disbelieve what Arteta said, but of course that’s what you’re going to say when you leave a guy in the game after he takes an obvious and heavy blow to the head.
But it should never have come to that. There needs to be, at the very least, temporary substitutions for head injuries to allow medical personnel to properly assess whether a player has suffered a concussion. World football is light years behind U.S.-professional sports in terms of player safety when it comes to head injuries. It’s unacceptable.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form gets more alarming every game. Strikers are going to have droughts, but today was the first time he seemed visibly disinterested/frustrated. Yes, yes I know there isn’t much to be gained from interpreting body language and demeanor, but his expressions have visibly changed. He’s hardly getting any service, he’s not scoring, and it sure seems like it’s getting to him.
Arsenal really felt Thomas Partey’s absence today; Granit Xhaka was atrocious and Dani Ceballos wasn’t much better. And when it rains, it pours. Arteta said that Partey’s injury was more serious than initially thought and that he’d be out for a few more matches.
Gabriel had a fantastic match. He’s been a tremendous signing and looks to be a bona-fide Premier League star in the making. I also thought Reiss Nelson was bright in his substitute appearance. He offered noticeably more attacking threat and dynamism than did Willian.
But it’s dark times in North London, and I’m concerned things aren’t going to get much better for a while. The Gunners host Rapid Wien in the Europa League on Thursday night before traveling across London to face top of the table Tottenham on Sunday. Maybe it will be the spark that starts the improbable turnaround. The mood could also be significantly worse in seven days’ time.