On 23 December 2010 Arsenal were preparing for the visit of Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea.
Arsene Wenger’s side were coming off the back of a 1-0 loss to Man United that had seen the Gunners give up top spot in the Premier League, but there was still optimism around the Emirates.
There wasn’t a #WengerOut banner in sight and even Troopz, DT and Claude would have found it difficult to complain.
On the same day a man called Graham Potter took over a third tier Swedish side with an average attendance of around 900 and average December temperatures of -2°.
It’s fair to say Potter’s arrival at Ostersund didn’t exactly cause shock waves back in Blighty.
Fast forward eight years and Ostersund were beating Arsenal in their own back garden to inflict arguably Wenger’s worst career loss.
So what’s changed? How far have Arsenal fallen from that 2010/11 side?
Wenger’s options in goal are arguably stronger now than they were back in 2010.
He’s got a simple formulae of an admittedly off colour Petr Cech for league games and Colombia international David Ospina for cup games.
Ospina does tend to lurch between a flamboyant shot stopper and a nervous wreck but that’s par for the course when it comes to back up goalkeepers.
For the 2010/11 season Wenger had a conundrum on his hands.
Youngster Wojciech Szczesny was showing significant promise but wasn’t yet fully trusted, while neither Lukasz Fabianski or Manuel Almunia had Wenger’s full backing.
In the end Wenger avoided committing, which couldn’t have been particularly helpful for any of the three.
Szczesny’s displays for Juventus this season, coupled with Cech’s decline in form, will probably have Wenger regretting his decision to let the 27-year-old leave permanently.
One of the main criticisms thrown at Wenger of late is the lack of defensive organisation shown by his sides.
The difference between the 2010 ideal back four of Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Laurent Koscielny, and, when fit, Thomas Vermaelen compared to the current back five is pretty stark.
Now Wenger plays a left-back at centre-back in Nacho Monreal and a midfielder at left-wing back in Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Koscielny is still there but he now looks around at training to see Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Calum Chambers.
The two German World Cup winners in Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker haven’t done much to help, either because of form or injury/possessing the turning circle of a London taxi.
Cesc Fabregas. Samir Nasri. Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky with four limbs. Alex Song pre-Barcelona. Jack Wilshere.
Wenger wasn’t short of midfield options in 2010, and that’s before you take youngsters Aaron Ramsey and Denilson into account.
Wilshere and Ramsey are still at Arsenal but the optimism of youth has well and truly faded.
Mesut Ozil is one of the few members of the current squad that would have improved the 2010/11 side, but the lack of ability around him often leaves him looking frustrated, opening the German up to criticism from Twitter’s body language experts.
The addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, himself a technical expert who can find himself at the mercy of Twitter’s boo boys, should help that.
Granit Xhaka is a lovely footballer when allowed to dictate, but not the defensive midfielder Arsenal require, while asking Mohamed Elneny to sit is like trying to explain Bitcoin to your nan.
If Santi Cazorla had remained injury free he would have solved so many of Arsenal’s midfield problems.
Either that or he’d be playing for Man United.
On paper Wenger’s options of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are rock solid.
It’s the supporting cast of Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi who fail to inspire confidence.
In 2010 Wenger could turn to Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Even Theo Walcott’s pace was frightening defenders.
But Wenger still had a sense of humour. Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh appeared in 76 games that season.
But both squads had one thing in common
You don’t need to be
Garth Crooks a football expert to work out that Arsenal were stronger back in 2010/11.
But that squad finished fourth in the Premier League, runners-up in the League Cup, only made it to the sixth round in the FA Cup and lost to Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16.
The only difference was hope, which was quickly extinguished in the following transfer window when Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy were sold, and then again the following window when Van Persie and Song departed.
But without regular Arsenal meltdowns what would we all talk about?
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