Arsenal fans could point to Tottenham’s capitulation towards the end of 2015/2016 season as a gift: The North London rivals had been locked in a fierce battle for the title, which Leicester ultimately won, but the White Hart Lane outfit had been ahead of their more illustrious rivals at the turn of the year, which was a surprise as The Gunners had never finished behind their rivals in Premier League history. Tottenham’s somewhat inevitable collapse gave Arsene Wenger a soft landing, as the fans had started to turn on Wenger to leave the club, but the board backed him to stay.
When the Gunners schooled Chelsea 3-0 back in September, they showed signs of a team that was ready to dominate the league. They looked particularly destructive that day, but it is surprising to find them 8 points behind the same team they beat so comprehensively. Antonio Conte’s men are seven points clear of Tottenham, who are currently second on 45 points. Arsenal are fourth on 44 points, which is not too bad, but consecutive losses to Everton and Manchester City back in December showed the familiar signs of fragility and wilting under pressure even after being ahead in both games, which has been a recurring theme for the past 12 years, a period they have failed to win the league title.
The Arsenal team lacks leaders of men, and lack of previous title winners. Apart from Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech, the team lacks the characters that have tasted title winning euphoria. Winning a league title means having players who can stand up to any situation, and won’t drop their normal levels of quality and expectation. The team is the best in recent times, with massive squad depth and quality replacements in every department, yet, they are not living up to expectations and it’s all down to the manager, who is regularly content with 4th placed finishes and the odd cup here and there.
Arsenal need to finally show they can be counted among serious title contenders, however, with Wenger still in charge, some things may never change.