Buried by London rivals before half-time and reduced to the role of extras in Romelu Lukaku’s Chelsea homecoming, yesterday was a bad day for Arsenal.
The truth is it could have been much worse: the European champions sliced through the Gunners’ gossamer defence at will without getting out of second gear.
But despite having no points and no goals from their first two Premier League games of the season, Arsenal’s predicament hasn’t hit rock bottom yet.
That could come in the next few weeks, however, as a team stripped of confidence and some key players face up to a run of games that could leave manager Mikel Arteta under intense pressure.
Think it’s been bad so far? Wait til Wednesday when Arsenal run the risk of a humiliating second-round exit from the Carabao Cup at in-form West Bromwich Albion.
Whatever the outcome at the Hawthorns, they will likely finish August without any points – and possibly even bottom of the table – after visiting Manchester City on Saturday.
Arsenal had some wretched spells last term but were insulated from fan sentiment by the pandemic keeping spectators out of stadiums.
That has changed now that crowds are back. They booed Arsenal off on Sunday, and supporter discontent will be greater and harder for players and club chiefs alike to ignore.
September looks key for Arteta’s Arsenal reign
It wasn’t uniformly awful against Chelsea; Emile Smith Rowe had some excellent moments, Bukayo Saka threatened despite some obvious rustiness, and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang returned from Covid-19.
Thomas Partey, Alexandre Lacazette and first-choice defensive pairing Ben White and Gabriel, meanwhile, are still to return from injury and illness.
There is a sense that, having inherited a mess of a squad, the jury is still out on Arteta so he will be given some grace to show he can deliver results this season. And defeat to Chelsea and City is, to some degree, now expected.
The key spell, then, may come next month, when Arsenal face Norwich, Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur.
It says something about Arsenal’s dire performances that even a visit from Norwich, the only team with worse results than them, can look tricky. But then they have already lost at Brentford.
Burnley, too, are pointless but difficult opponents, especially in light of increased refereeing leniency this year. Tottenham, meanwhile, have won two from two.
It’s perfectly plausible that Arsenal lose at home to bitter rivals Spurs on 26 September and go into October bottom of the Premier League.
The outpouring of acrimony that would trigger at an Emirates Stadium that has already seen unrest directed at the club’s ownership in recent months may prove untenable.
As bad as Arsenal are, it is probably about to get worse before it gets better, and – rightly or wrongly -the clock is ticking for Arteta to show he is the man to deliver that improvement.