Arsenal: One of Football's Great Enigmas

Ross BellamyContributor IIINovember 23, 2012

All smiles at The Emirates on Wednesday night
All smiles at The Emirates on Wednesday nightMike Hewitt/Getty Images

With Chelsea, Manchester City, Mark Clattenburg's exoneration and now Mark Hughes' sacking hogging the headlines, Arsenal’s professional midweek victory against Montpellier—which saw them qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League for a staggering 13th consecutive season—has almost gone unnoticed.

Jack Wilshere’s goal early in the second half was the catalyst for Arsenal to wake from their slumber to outclass Montpellier, who could only stand back and marvel at the home team’s brand of artistic football.

That victory came off the back of crushing Spurs in the North London derby last Saturday, meaning The Emirates is a happy, tranquil place once again.

But lurking in the shadows is Arsenal’s arch-nemesis: inconsistency.

Even though we are only three months into the season, Arsenal supporters have already been on a roller coaster of frustration. Every time the players pull on the famous red and white jerseys, the fans literally have no idea what to expect from them. The North London giants are quickly becoming nightmarish for both their own fans and gamblers alike.

In a previous article, I expressed my concerns about Arsenal’s shaky defense because, despite Arsene Wenger investing over £40 million on Sébastien Squillaci, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Andre Santos, they are still conceding too many goals.

Sometimes this defensive unit looks tighter than your bank manager when attempting to acquire a loan, before inexplicably conspiring to make the most amateurish of mistakes.

The same unpredictability haunts their strike force too.

Sports journalists were far too quick to write-off both Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, as the two international strikers are beginning to look a real threat in front of goal, terrorizing opposition defenses with their strength and movement.

But from time to time, both Podolski and Giroud look anything but clinical when a goalscoring opportunity presents itself. If this partnership could discover the magical formula that makes former talisman Robin van Persie so lethal in front of goal, Arsenal could be ready to break that horrifying seven-year run without a trophy. 

Now, whilst Arsenal’s unpredictability might be one reason casual fans gravitate towards them, that trait is not conducive with winning silverware. 

One week, Arsenal perform like Barcelona, before following that up with a display that even League 2 side Bristol Rovers would be embarrassed of.

All this means is that Saturday’s Aston Villa vs. Arsenal encounter in the EPL becomes a game of paramount importance, as I believe the Gunners desperately need to continue their winning mentality. A defeat could prove to be extremely detrimental in the long run, and the return of that dreaded inconsistent tag.

But would you gamble your hard-earned money on the outcome at Villa Park? I certainly wouldn't.

Until they overcome their inconstancy, Arsenal will forever be football’s great enigma.