IT’S an all-too-familiar story for Arsenal and their fans.
When it comes to the crunch, the Gunners have shown again they don’t have the stomach for a real fight, they’re not willing to roll up their sleeves and do the ‘dirty work’ in order to grind out a crucial result away from home.
Not only did their meek 3-2 surrender to a Manchester United side missing 14 first teamers through injury deal Arsenal a massive blow in their bid for the Premier League title, it also predictably led to an avalanche of criticism and the oft-repeated claim that, for all their pretty football, Arsenal are still ‘soft’.
One of their fiercest critics was former Liverpool great Graeme Souness, now a TV pundit for Sky Sports.
Souness didn’t hold back, saying: “It was tippy-tappy football from Arsenal – they had 60 per cent of possession but were going nowhere.
“Arsenal today bordered on being a joke for me.
“You turn up here, you’re playing a Manchester United side struggling with injuries, introducing young players, low on confidence and you’re thinking it’s tailored-made for a proper team to come here and do a number on an understrength Man Utd and they didn’t.”
“This Arsenal team just doesn’t have ‘it’ – and I’ll stand on my head if they prove me wrong and go and win this league. That today was totally unacceptable.
“If I were an Arsenal supporter I’d be so angry right now. There’s so much about Arsenal to like but – in equal measure – so much to dislike.”
Strong words indeed but we have to agree. Arsenal had a real chance to lay down a marker, to make a statement and show that their infamous fragility when the going gets tough was a thing of the past, as boss Arsene Wenger has been insisting over the past few weeks.
Still only five points behind leaders Leicester, the Gunners, at least on paper, are still in with a real chance of claiming their first league title since 2004. But at this stage of the season, points are won as much in the mind as out on the pitch. Arsenal failed miserably in their first big test in the end-of-season run-in and based on their insipid display at Old Trafford, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any gymnastics any time soon from Souness!
Arsenal fans, can you bounce back or was the nature of the United defeat a real cause for concern?