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What Albert Einstein got right (and wrong) about Arsenal

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Another day, another Arsenalesque capitulation from Arsenal, who are succeeding in their campaign to become the most Arsenal-like Arsenal they can be.

Martin Rose

Every season, every football writer begins one column by referring to Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." There's an irony there, but no matter. Quite why Einstein, a physics enthusiast of some renown, gets to pronounce on questions of sanity isn't clear; if a psychiatrist asked you to take a ride in a space rocket they'd built, you'd doubtless be a touch wary. Though at least you could be sure that the phallic imagery was intentional.

Still, it's a good line, and it bring us neatly to Arsenal, who have begun the season in a manner that couldn't more be relentlessly Arsenal if it were stuffed with explosive, patriotic, morally questionable weapons. No, you're right, a Jack Wilshere joke at this stage would be cheap. Yes, you're right, that is just another way of making a cheap Jack Wilshere joke. No, we regret nothing.

Before last night's defeat in Dortmund -- as one-sided a two-nil defeat as recent memory can muster -- Jurgen Klopp was happy to tell the international press that his team had been preparing largely on the basis of Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Manchester City. He was able to do so in the sure and certain knowledge that Arsenal weren't about to arrive in Germany and do anything experimental. No sudden switch of attacking approach; no leftfield tweaking of formation; no attempts to smother the game and nick off with a decent point. Arsenal will do as Arsenal will do, and the only question for the opposition is if they can be frustrated or disrupted.

Which everybody -- from Leicester City and Crystal Palace to City and Dortmund to you -- knows they can. City's first goal came round the back, deploying the pace of Jesus Navas to exploit the space behind the attacking fullbacks and their second came from a set piece. Dortmund, for their part, twice went down the middle, exposing the inadequate defensive coverage provided by Arsenal's midfield and the occasional chaos it inspires in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. At no point, watching those goals, did anybody watching say "oh, I had no idea that was going to happen". Ghasts remained thoroughly unflabbered, jaws around the world stayed resolutely undropped.

Because you know that can happen. You also know that Arsenal's transfer business over the summer has only exacerbated everything. No defensive midfielder: Mikel Arteta isn't one; Mathieu Flamini is but isn't good enough. No experienced defensive cover: that Hector Bellerin had to start last night is an indictment of the depth of their squad (just as the fact that he was arguably Arsenal's least-worst player is an indictment of the performance). Worse, had Laurent Koscielny hit his own post full-on in the process of conceding the second, then Arsenal would have been forced into playing a tonsilitis-ridden teenager for the rest of the game.

As for Danny Welbeck, well, while he might eventually end up as an upgrade and/or a reliable alternative to Olivier Giroud, that's going to take time, and that time needs to be spent in front of a functional side. Missed chances can be shrugged off when the team are winning. But when the opposition take advantage of an airkicked shot to slice their way up the other end and kill the game, that helps nobody rebuild their game and their confidence.

Hey, even Arsene Wenger knows. According to ESPN, "Arsene Wenger's scouting team met in the aftermath of the FA Cup final victory, [and] the Frenchman informed them the club was in the market for a defensive midfielder". That was the end of May. Perhaps the right player was never located. Perhaps he was too expensive. Perhaps Calum Chambers is meant to end up there eventually. But this is in danger of flourishing into a late-period Alex Ferguson-style blind spot -- midfielders? Hah! -- only without the relentless winning that covered it all up.

Finally, and most distressingly for people who like their football pretty, everybody can see that Mesut Özil is turning into a luxury player. Not in the usual sense -- a player who isn't needed but looks good -- but in the sense that here is something glitteringly expensive being used for some other purpose. A Bugatti Veyron on the school run, or a Picasso hanging in the bathroom. Which is fine for those that can afford such extravagance, but not for a football team as brittle as Arsenal. Apart from anything else, the poor fullbacks that have to sweep up behind the misdeployed playmaker need a break. Perhaps the return of Theo Walcott will free the German from his exile on the flanks.

Some of this has been the case for over a season. You know it all, and so do we. We're bored of writing it. Doubtless you're bored of reading it. Yet there they go, and here we are, and here you are. Same time next week? Einstein was wrong: the same thing over and over again despite the same result isn't insanity. It's boredom. It's achingly, hopelessly, unadventurously dull. It comes to something when Arsenal getting shredded 2-0 away from home isn't as fun as it should be for non-Gooners, when it's just a bit sad. Yet here we are. Come on, Arsene. You're ruining schadenfreude for everyone.