The spectre of Arsenal’s 8-2 defeat against Manchester United will linger long in the memories of Gunners fans, but for boss Arsene Wenger he hoped it would be a watershed moment.
A busy a frenetic transfer deadline day, as well as an international break, provided a natural gap between their Old Trafford nightmare and the rest of the season. A narrow 1-0 over Swansea suggested the only way was up.
But as they took to field at a soggy Ewood Park on Saturday – favourites in the soccer betting, against a Blackburn side seemingly in crisis and sat at the bottom of the table – the wounds inflicted on them against Manchester United were re-opened again.
But while the absence of eight senior players and the rampant form of the Red Devils gave Wenger a mild excuse, the manner of the way they conceded four goals against Rovers is not something the fans will ever see as acceptable.
It didn’t take an expert pundit to see where Arsenal went wrong, with each Blackburn goal – two of them own goals – preceded by a catalogue of defensive howlers.
Wenger sat slumped on his seat by the touchline looking a beaten man. The calendar year has not been kind if you consider the second month of 2011 contained the Carling Cup defeat, swiftly followed by an FA Cup exit and a now annual league collapse in the following two months.
It would be folly to suggest the club will be involved in the relegation betting stakes, but looking at the scale of the problems facing Wenger it seems unlikely that they will turn things around enough in order to compete for the title or the Champions League spaces.
Indeed, bitter rivals Spurs sent out a clear message of their top four intentions with a 4-0 romp over Liverpool just 24 hours after the Blackburn disaster.
The lack of Champions League cash as well as the damage it will have on their attractiveness as a club (despite the money, Sergio Aguero would never have gone to City if they hadn’t have been in the Champions League), could have serious implications of Wenger’s ability to re-build a side that has been slowly collapsing since the middle of the last decade.
And if he no longer feels he can achieve his aims, will we soon reach the day where the professor calls it a day?