The Barclays Premier League is into its fifth week already, and Arsenal are yet to get going - no wonder. While seven points in four games, including two away wins (at Selhurst and St. James' Park) does seem a decent start, the fact that the Gunners are struggling to find the back of the net is what is the real headache.
Never in the past decade or two has the lack of goal-scoring been a problem for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, so it surely is strange to see that the reigning FA Cup Champions have only managed to score just once in four league games (Olivier Giroud Vs Crystal Palace). It'd be wrong to say there haven't been enough chances created, or that Arsenal have been reluctant to attack, that's not the problem by any extent of imagination.
To some sort, Alexis Sanchez - Arsenal's leading goal-scorer last season - having to play in a wider has played a part in his and the team's goals drying up. As a winger, the fact that the Chilean likes to cut the ball onto his right foot more often than not does make him a bit predictable, whereas the case is different when he operates in a more central role.
The same can be said of Aaron Ramsey who does have goals to his game but his recent performances haven't necessarily reflected that as he is being forced to operate out wide, resulting in the Welshman having relatively lesser impact, which eventually has gone to affect the team as a whole. The only solution in this case seems a change in the formation so the best can be brought out from the current squad, and the fixture against Stoke City might present a good opportunity to do that, or it could well be too late with the Champions League drawing ever closer.
It's hard to think of Arsene Wenger making any change to the team that lined up against Newcastle United. Theo Walcott was given a golden opportunity to nail down the striker spot, but he failed to make any major impact at all. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was good the last time around, but with Mesut Özil fit again, he may not start as well. As for the defence, Per Mertesacker is still a doubt, which means no changes to the back four either.
"Stoke have been here a long time in the Premier League and they have improved their technical quality." said Arsene Wenger.
"They have always had good teams and overall when we go to Stoke they are always specially motivated against us. There is a little bit of history because of what happened and overall it was always very difficult for us.
"For me there was never bad blood, it was just a game that was always very difficult for us."
One would like to think of Arsenal putting up a typically bright performance against a side whom they are a country mile ahead of, and are struggling with injuries. That, possibly, is the end of the debate.