Gunners' cold November
Wenger needs shivering stars to wake up or Arsenal's season may freeze over
(Olivier Giroud 45+1-pen, Marco Verratti 59-og
PARIS ST GERMAIN 2
(Edinson Cavani 18, Alex Iwobi 77-og)
In some respects, Arsenal against Bournemouth suddenly becomes the Gunners' most important game of the season.
Anything other than a win on Sunday offers another nail in a familiar coffin.
Once again, a November funeral parade threatens to makes its way through north London.
Arsene Wenger's weary men continue to falter in wintry conditions.
There was no shame in the 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain yesterday morning (Singapore time), but the embarrassing nature of Arsenal's performance was unavoidable.
The Gunners shivered as the French side mostly shimmied. They succumbed to stubborn stereotype once more. They froze.
But the Arsenal faithful are already raging against the perceived media bias on social media, i.e. Why is it always about Arsenal?
Tottenham Hotspur are out of the Champions League. Manchester City will finish in second place, just like Arsenal in all likelihood, but criticism of Pep Guardiola has been muted in comparison to the usual Wenger outrage.
So why pick on Arsenal?
But those Gunners wallowing in their martyrdom are missing the point.
Arsenal always do this in November. They are a couple of wrong turns away from finding the road to mediocrity once more.
After all these years, Wenger still hasn't signed any wintry warriors, a couple of battering bruisers ready to rise as the temperature falls.
To suggest there isn't a Patrick Vieira type in Arsenal's midfield is to state the bleeding obvious, but there isn't even a passing imitation.
Right now, a Ray Parlour would do.
Instead, the weary, jittery and generally inept hosts toiled with little reward, mustering just a single shot on target.
Only Edinson Cavani's hapless finishing denied PSG the convincing victory their dominance deserved.
The Gunners remain a frustrating creative mix of ifs, buts and maybes.
If Alex Iwobi fulfils his obvious youthful promise, he could be the kind of attacking force that Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (and even Jack Wilshere) still threaten to be.
Against PSG, Iwobi's only contribution was the own goal. Otherwise, he was mercilessly schooled by outstanding pair Lucas Moura and Marco Verratti.
If Olivier Giroud's ruthlessness matched his industry, he wouldn't be weighed down by that beard and those endless question marks.
If Wenger could make a decision on Alexis Sanchez's best position, then the Chilean might not drift to the periphery of crucial games.
Through the chilly fog at the Emirates, the common dominator revealed itself. Wenger. It always seems to come back to Wenger.
His supporters will dig out the trusty cliche concerning a side picking up points against Tottenham, Manchester United and PSG when not playing well, which conveniently avoids the inconvenient question.
Why aren't Arsenal playing well?
Against PSG, Wenger opted for essentially the same attacking approach used when Sanchez has led the line, despite the obvious differences in style between the Chilean and Giroud.
Even France recognise that the bearded labourer favours a direct, 4-3-3 kind of play, with lively wingers making the most of Giroud's aerial ability.
But the shorter, intricate stuff, which looked so pretty against lowly Sunderland, became ponderous and counter-productive against PSG.
Aside from one exquisite pass from Mesut Oezil to Sanchez, which won Arsenal's penalty, the Gunners' artists were impotent and Giroud was anonymous.
Rather than lamenting an alleged bias against Wenger, Arsenal diehards might ponder their manager's refusal to play his expensive signing in key games.
Granit Xhaka started on the bench, again, and did little of note when he finally came on in the 78th minute.
Most of all, Wenger's perennial struggle to lift his mercurial mavericks in harsh conditions will again be questioned.
When the weather bites, Arsenal do not.
They cower with reptilian consistency, desperately waiting for the sun to return.
November has always been Wenger's worst month and his side's performances have again tapered off.
They are likely to finish second in the group. They haven't topped a group since 2012. And, to extend the Groundhog Day theme further, the Gunners have gone out in the first knockout game in the last six seasons.
Arsenal are not being judged against the Champions League campaigns of Spurs and Manchester City. They are being judged against their own. History remains their harshest judge.
Wenger's men exasperate not because they are perpetually poor, but because they occasionally tease us with glimpses of real promise.
And then they throw it all away in the winter.
To paraphrase a song by those other Guns, it's hard to hold a candle for Arsenal if there's no cold November reign.