May 16, 2023 2:49 pm
Just as you thought that Arsenal’s surge for the title was back on track after the brilliant 2-0 win at Newcastle United, a 3-0 capitulation in the second half at home to Brighton & Hove Albion has put a huge dent in their Title aspirations.
Although it is still mathematically possible for Arsenal to win the League, they would need to win both their games against Nottingham Forrest and Wolves and hope City somehow obtain just a point from their remaining three games, which looks highly unlikely.
Where did it All go wrong?
Up until March, William Saliba had been the spine of Arsenal’s team, giving them the foundation to play their free-flowing brand of attacking football, but as soon as the Frenchman got injured, this exposed the lack of depth Arsenal had in terms of good quality, strong defenders.
If you take a look at City’s squad, if John Stones and/or Ruben Diaz get injured, they’ve gone and added the likes of Manuel Akanji, to give them the reassurance at the back, which enables them to carry on playing their free-flowing, attacking football.
You could also say that when Gabriel Jesus was injured during the World Cup, the Gunners had to call upon Eddie Nketiah to play the number nine role, and for someone who has not played enough in high-pressure games, this can be really difficult to emulate.
Nketiah has scored just four goals in 28 appearances for Arsenal this season, which for a backup centre-forward, is nowhere near good enough.
If you compare this to Julian Alvarez, who is a backup for Earling Haaland, he has eight in 28 appearances, which may not seem a lot, but he has chipped in with goals at crucial moments.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was also critical of Arsenal’s lack of experience in a Title race and also mentioned the spine of the team wobbling at the most crucial stage of the season.
“Experienced players stay still, they stay calm, they settle everything down and make sure they get you through difficult moments. That is what I always doubted. The Arsenal spine has wobbled at the most difficult time. They were never capable in my mind of holding it together.”
Gary Neville: Sky Sports
If you look at Manchester City, the likes of Rodri, Ruben Diaz, and Illkay Gündoğan have been the spine of the City over the past three seasons, and have given the team the freedom to express themselves, by making sure that they have a solid base to work from. They also bring a sense of calm to the team.
When you saw Granit Xhaka’s spat with Trent Alexander-Arnold, it was obvious that the nerves of dealing with a Title race were starting to kick in, and that Mikel Arteta’s side wasn’t able to bring a sense of calmness, which they so desperately needed at that time, and that has what has been the most disappointing thing about the last couple of months barring the Chelsea and Newcastle games.
The most difficult thing for Arsenal is that unless they bring in a couple more world-class midfielders and defenders in the summer, i.e. Declan Rice, or Moises Caicedo, they may never get an opportunity to be in the position that they were in at the beginning of April when they were seven points clear baring City’s two games in hand.
But one for is for certain, if and when City do get their hands on the Title, It has still been a highly successful season for the Gunners. When you look back at their Top 4 meltdown at the end of the 2021/22 season, most people believed that this would be a struggle for them.
But to have competed with a magnificent City at the top of the League for the whole season is still a phenomenal achievement, which they should be proud of.
And who knows what could happen next season, particularly if the Gunners have a good pre-season and spend wisely in the Summer Transfer Window, maybe they can be the new Liverpool, who were chasing City for the Title all the way to the last day.
Is this the start of a successful era for Arsenal regardless of whether or not they win the Title?
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