With an eight-point lead, Arsenal were on course to their first Premier League title on April 1, 2023. However, three consecutive draws and a loss against Manchester City undid all the hard work that Mikel Arteta’s men did for eight-and-a-half months within 19 days. The title collapse was reminiscent of their 2007-08 Premier League season, where they threw away an impressive lead following four consecutive draws.
However, Arsenal can still be pretty proud of their achievement, given they were given no chance of being in a title race before the start of the season. Still, Arteta and Co. will be hurt by their dramatic collapse. So, how did a team which looked set to win their first title since the 2003-04 season succumb to pressure?
How Arsenal bottled the Premier League title race?
Before facing Liverpool on April 9, Arsenal were on a hot streak, having won their last seven matches. During the same time, Manchester City had won six and drawn one. So, until then, Arsenal were perfectly handling the pressure very well, even bettering City’s point tally to secure their lead at the top of the table.
However, then came the games against Liverpool. The Reds under Jurgen Klopp were having a nightmare season of their own. And the team had also won only seven points in their last five matches, losing two and drawing to Chselse, which gave Arsenal their best chance in recent years to take all three points at Anfield.
And when Arsenal established a two-goal lead inside the opening thrifty minutes, it seemed the Gunners would take all three points. Although re-energised by the crowd at Anfield, Liverpool got two goals back. Still, the draw meant Arsenal were still masters of their destiny.
The next two games would put all that to rest. First came West Ham United, where, again, Arsenal quickly established a two-goal lead before putting their feet off the accelerator and allowing the Hammers to score two goals and eke out a draw. This serious;y knocked the sail out of Arsenal’s title race, with the club now required to beat Manchester City to keep the lead in the title race.
Before that match, they faced Southampton, a team last on 20th in the league. Everyone expected them to batter the Saints, which would inspire some confidence in their ranks for the clash against City. Instead, what followed was perhaps their worst display for the season as they found themselves 2-0 down inside 15 minutes.
Arsenal have not won the title for 19 seasons. That is the longest run without winning the league since they returned to the top flight in 1919.
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) May 21, 2023
The team fought back, but with the match ending at 3-3, their Premier League dream was as good as over. The only way for a comeback was a miraculous win away to City. But Guradiola’s men, who have been in two ultra-competitive title races that went to the last day, used their experience to thrash the London team 4-1 to end all their aspirations.
These four games meant that the only way they could now win the title was if City experienced a similar collapse. However, it did not materialise as the defending champions made full use of the opportunity. Arsenal would win three straight matches after the CIty loss, including a 2-0 away victory to Newcastle United. Still, a defeat at Nottingham Forest would officially hand Manchester City their fifth Premier League title in the last six seasons.
Why Arsenal bottled the Premier League title race?
While Arsenal produced a brilliant season despite finishing second, throughout the season, there were signs that the team could capitulate. The first of these was their lack of depth. The Gunners boasted a talented squad, especially in the attack and midfield, with players such as Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, and Granit Xhaka.Few could offer the same quality if the aforementioned players were injured/
While everyone except Jesus managed to remain fit, there was another problem; tiredness. With no quality substitutes available, the starting players had to play almost every match to keep a rampant City at bay. And this intensity started to affect players in April, which was evident by their below-par displays in all three draws against Liverpool, West Ham United and Southampton.
On top of that, the injury to William Saliba, who was the leader of the backline, also did Arsenal no favours. Arsenal were quite shaky without the enigmatic defender, giving teams far more opportunities to create good goal-scoring chances.
The final aspect of their Premier League bottling, though, came down to their experience or, should we say, inexperience. With one of the youngest squads ever in Premier League history, Arsenal played without real expectations at the start of the season.
However, as soon as the dream of a Premier League trophy increased, so did the pressure. And it is where their inexperience played a part. On the other hand, Manchester City had the experience of not but two intensely fought title races where they emerged victorious. In 2018-19 they won their last 14 matches to win the title by one point. Three seasons later, they would repeat the same trick, win the title by one point after losing just once in their last 27 Premier League games.
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Arsenal bottle meme
At one time, Arsenal fans were quite confident that the Premier League trophy would come their way after 19 years. However, after their incredible meltdown, Twitter was flooded with memes about how Arsenal once again bottled the league.
Here are some of the funniest reactions from Twitter:
Arsenal fans trying to explain how they didn’t bottle the league because nobody expected them to win pic.twitter.com/xBtYBmzySA
— C.⚜️ #GlazersOut🔰 (@_CRutd) May 14, 2023
Is Arsenal’s title charge the biggest bottle in history? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/HMWLJR9utb
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) May 14, 2023
gary neville, a 8 time PL winner told everybody arsenal would bottle the league but their fans wanted his head on a stick 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/vk9YGbmaqr
— ⚡ (@UTDCJ_) May 14, 2023
#Arsenal How can you bottle this !! pic.twitter.com/dteKLTwUZu
— Lane (@LaneNewsom) May 14, 2023
Bro dropped this speech just for arsenal to bottle the league to city😭pic.twitter.com/ky2iAxErxc
— raz (@dalot_ball) May 20, 2023
Arsenal will play their final Premier League match on May 28 against Wolverhampton Wanderers.