It seems to be the common blueprint for the Gunners every season; they get themselves in a commanding position in the Premier League and then they capitulate.
In a season where many of the big guns in the EPL have been inconsistent to say the least (Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City), Arsene Wenger’s men have the best chance of winning the title since the days of the Invincibles. Though, if we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that Wenger’s men can derail their own titles hopes over the course of a couple of games.
Their defensive fragilities are there to be seen. Yes, Nacho Monrael and Hector Bellerin are wonderful roaming fullbacks, but their attacking mentalities expose the sluggish Per Mertesacker. Regardless of the efforts of the capable Laurent Koscielny, Wenger remains steadfast in his approach to games – and it’s costing them in crucial games. There’s also the running debate on why he has never signed a world-class defensive midfielder since losing Patrick Vieira. It’s a frustrating series of questions, that arise each year when Arsenal internally combust when in sight of the finish line.
After their recent humbling at the hands of Barcelona and Lionel Messi in the Champions League, Arsenal went into their home game with Swansea as favorites. They had only lost 1 out of 12 games at the Emirates going into the tie with Swansea. Though in typical Arsenal fashion, stats went out the window, and the Gunners of old returned to the frustration of their fans.
Arsenal lost 2-1 at the Emirates to a team that had struggled all season, replacing Garry Monk with Italian Francesco Guidolin at the halfway point of the season. What should have been a formality, Arsenal turned into a living nightmare. The Italian set up Swansea to attack the Gunners on the break and it worked. Goals from Wayne Routledge and captain Ashley Williams inflicted another loss on Arsenal’s record and meant they were unable to make ground up on fierce rivals Tottenham and table toppers Leicester City.
Have Arsenal blown their chances of winning their first EPL title since 2004? Luckily, both Tottenham and Leicester were unable to record victories midweek but that’s not to say they cannot mount a run of wins as we approach the end of the season. On paper, Arsenal should win the title this season, but as we are well aware, there seems to be some underlining psychological issues among the team when it comes to pressure situations.
If anything, Tottenham seem the best equipped to challenge Arsenal and could well beat their North London rivals to the title if the Gunners continue to stutter at vital moments.