Arsenal Football Club has been touted as one of the favorites for the Barclays Premier League title this season. Despite starting the season with a 0-2 loss to West Ham at the Emirates, many pundits have still considered the team as a title contender. This belief has been reinforced by the string of good performances the club and even beaten title rivals like Manchester United, Leicester City, and Manchester City.
While the club has endured long-term injuries to some of its key players, others have risen up to fill the gaps such as Joel Campbell. There have also been excellent performances from players like Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, and Mesut Ozil that catapulted the team to league leaders in recent weeks. Injuries have always been a constant problem at the club but the players have seemingly responded well this season with good performances.
However, Arsenal’s problem seems to be raring its ugly head again. On January 2, 2016, Arsenal were league leaders with 42 points, 2 points above their closest challenger, Leicester City and 6 points above Tottenham Hotspurs in fourth. One month later, the story is totally different. Arsenal are fourth (their usual comfortable position) with 45 points and 5 points adrift league leaders, Leicester City. Spurs have since leapfrogged them to occupy third spot on goal difference.
This sounds similar to two seasons ago when the team was top of the league in January and ended up finishing fourth at the end of that season. For Arsenal players and fans, this sounds like de ja vu while Spurs fans are enjoying it and having a go at Arsenal fans.
Will Arsenal really win the league? Your guess is as good as mine. The problem with Arsenal is that they seem to bottle things up when it matters most. In the last four games, the team has only collected 3 points from a possible 12 and has not scored a goal in each of their last three games. That’s not a mark of a team gunning for top spot. Teams that win the title know how to pick points from their opponents even when they aren’t playing well. Arsenal’s approach in recent games has been appalling and does not show signs of a title contender. The team is suffering from a mental block, which will probably cost them the league title.
While they still have a chance of winning the league, Arsenal are not showing consistency and look like they are okay with finishing fourth. You will never win a championship if your goal is to just qualify for Champions League. Based on recent performances, Arsenal will bottle up (like they usually do) their best probable chance of winning the league in recent years.
For Arsenal fans like me, it’s time to probably kill the faith unless we change our approach to games and learn to pick points when it matters most.