Funny how quickly things can go from so promising and good to shaky and in danger of falling apart.
Thus is the situation at Arsenal, where the young and talented squad went from flying high after beating Manchester United to being in danger of imploding as word of infighting and locker room unrest has created an environment that has played some role in the Gunners suffering the cruel fate of falling out of title contention in November.
SBI EPL correspondent James Tyler of The Unprofessional Foul gives us his take on the situation at Arsenal, as well as the one at Manchester City, where the club is dealing with the weight of expectation and the unfamiliar situation of having unlimited resources. Tyler focuses on these, as well as providing his weekly recap of the action in the English Premier League:
Unfamiliar roles for Arsenal and Man City
By JAMES TYLER
Soap operas and soccer don't really work well together. Footballers' Wives wasn't very good (I did give it an episode or so, embarrassingly), and neither was Dream Team, but this season, we have two dramas playing out in the EPL, and this weekend, we got to watch them both on the same pitch.
In one corner: the emotionally bruised aesthetes of Arsenal, manned by the Frenchman who's afraid of the transfer market. In the other, the Manchester side with an inferiority complex that's now richer than everyone but not sure what to do with it. Both wonderfully complicated stories considering the pressure on both sides to perform.
Arsenal aren't used to losing (they're only 4-5 seasons removed from being the Invincibles), and Manchester City aren't used to having unlimited resources. How it shakes out over the long-term is anyone's guess, but what's clear is the result on Saturday. A 3-0 defeat for Arsenal, a team who's struggling with injuries and a dressing room malcontent in deposed captain William Gallas (you can already see the "For Sale" sign being hung in the window at Emirates), from which they could take nothing positive. Actually, that's not true. They should be happy it wasn't four- or five-nil.
Benjani's early unmarked header was put well wide of the post, Robinho had a goal disallowed thanks to a questionable offsides call, the Brazilian then had another effort cleared off the line, and with just the Swiss Miss Nicolas Bendtner up front (I'd mention van Persie, but he was nonexistent so what's the point?), they had no response.
The first goal from Stephen Ireland, a man in the form of his life, summed up the Arsenal season perfectly: two Gooners attempting to clear the ball ended up clearing each other, giving Ireland an easy chance with Almunia horribly out of position. The style council, for all their flair and beauty, are giving up plenty of ugly goals this season. Robinho's 56th minute effort was pretty, lobbing Almunia after being put through by Shaun Wright-Phillips' wonderful run and throughball (another man who's in the form of his life). A late Sturridge penalty completed the pain.
For Manchester City, it was pure joy, but Mark Hughes has to wonder how his side can lose to Bolton and Middlesbrough but then decimate a Top 4 team a couple of weeks later. It's baffling; the team selections are virtually the same from week to week, so why the glaring inconsistency in performance? Once the elation subsides, it's a conundrum he'll need to figure out before it costs him his job. Remember; at Eastlands, money is no longer a problem. You think if Jose Mourinho manages successfully to get himself fired at Inter Milan (and recent conduct suggests he's doing well so far), how long do you think it'd take the Sheikh to make an offer?
In Arsenal and Man City, you've got two decent teams that are heading in two different directions. Man City will spend in January, and spend big, whereas the Gunners will surely suffer another transfer season without making the reinforcements so desperately needed, such is the unflinching self-belief that Wenger has concerning his squad and youngsters. When he does reach his hand in his pocket, will it be for a proven defender, or yet another 19-year-old prospect? Whatever happens, we're certainly looking at someone new in the Top 4 by the end of the season. All evidence points to it getting a lot worse at Emirates before it gets better.