Will Arsenal avoid their annual collapse in form this time?

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  • The period that witnesses a dip in form for the club usually starts in February until the league season is reaching a climax from April.

An Arsenal player laments after the team lost to Olympiacos. Photo: Goal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reflects after a loss by the team in the Champions League. Photo: Goal.

Arsenal may not be the richest or most successful football club in the world, but it arguably is the most talked about one and most times, for the wrong reasons.

It’s become so bad in recent years that when one is trying to use an instance to describe what an abusive relationship looks like, people point to the one between the Gunners and its fans, with the reason not far-fetched.

Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015 no doubt, but the inability to win the Premier League title in a dozen years as well as a penchant to get knocked out in the European Champions League round of 16 has led to the club being ridiculed by rival fans time and again.

From jibes about everything Arsenal being linked to the number 4 to the club’s supposed stinginess in the player transfer market, it’s difficult being an Arsenal fan, well to the point of admiration.

These fans, also known as Gooners, are usually described as people that would make loyal spouses as well.

This is evident in their continued support of the club despite the lack of winning the league (for years) and Champions League (since inception), a behaviour reminiscent of a lover who stays loyal to his or her boo who’s going through a tough time.

And for many who know Arsenal, there’s the annual period of collapse the club is associated with, which usually starts in February until the league season is reaching a climax from April.

This year’s episode of a potential collapse features a trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea in early February and two matches against German champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16 later in February and early in March.

Lionel Messi scores a goal against Arsenal in last season's Champions League
Lionel Messi scores a goal against Arsenal in last season’s Champions League

Between the two ties against Bayern is a trip to Liverpool scheduled for March 4, with a game at home to Manchester City afterwards on April Fool’s Day.

Arsenal have lost three league games this season, with two of those coming at home to Liverpool and at Man. City. The club also has an inferior record in matches against Bayern.

So that’s five tough matches in eight weeks, a number that could increase depending on what team Arsenal are rewarded with in the next round of the FA Cup for thrashing Southampton 5-0 on Saturday, January 28.

Let’s take last season for instance. Arsenal were top of the league table in January but by mid-February, the Gunners had dropped to fourth in the league.

Arsenal had also fallen 2-0 to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.

They went on to lose the second leg against Barca 3-1, preceded by a loss to Manchester United in the league at the end of February 2016.

Those were followed by three league draws in April against West Ham, Sunderland and Crystal Palace; results that pretty much sealed a fate many had concluded two months before in February – another season without a trophy for the Gunners.

(It is all smiles for Arsenal players as they crush Aston Villa 4-0 to win the 12th FA Cup title for the London club. Photo: BBC)
Arsenal players celebrating after crushing Aston Villa 4-0 to win the 12th FA Cup title for the London club. Photo: BBC

The loss to Barca in Europe in March 2016 made it six straight seasons Arsenal would fall at the round of 16 stage.

Winning the FA Cup in 2014 and 2015 did cushion the dip in form witnessed in the league around this fateful period we’re talking about.

Arsenal may be in good form at the moment, with six wins recorded in a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

However, the dreaded period of collapse cometh like winter in Game of Thrones and it remains to be seen who between Gooners and rival fans will have the last laugh come May.

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