What do people think of Arsenal? They believe that they play wonderful football, that the club is expertly managed, but that they don’t have the mental strength to win when it really matters. All of that describes Arsenal in the past five years.
But what happened in the previous years? Well, Arsenal boasted players the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Viera, Parlour, Adams and many other stars who are dear to our hearts. Forget for a minute that they were an unforgettable force in the English game with the mesmerising attacking football that they used to offer (we still do). All of these aspects contributed to the winning mentality and won games when it really mattered most. There were no such thing as not winning anything because they gave it their all and made teams lose games when the all hadn’t even been kicked yet. Arsenal had struck the psychological blow on a regular basis.
Why hasn’t it been like that from 2005? There are possible reasons, one of them being that that Arsene has been selling experience for youth, but that isn’t a good enough excuse. If you are to play for Arsenal then you need to be mentally up to the task. Football-wise nothing can stop Arsenal, but it is our mentality in games that has let us down so often in the past.
Cast your mind back to February 2008 when Arsenal effectively ended the Title Race. Three minutes into the encounter the blow had struck. Eduardo (our inform striker at the time) had broken his leg in terrible circumstances. But that didn’t spell the end of the race for Arsenal; it was our inability to win the game in a difficult situation to lead United further on in the Title Race. Arsenal had bottled it.
The same case stands today, but it is slightly in contrast than two years ago. Wenger’s side have lost the plot in games where they could have had a giant advantage over our title counter-parts. Sunderland (A) and Burnley (A). Probably two of their worst dropped points of the season, and had they won those games then they would currently lead the pack. It is only the inconsistency of United and Chelsea that has allowed us back in the fold. Now it is time to make them pay.
The win against Stoke told Arsenal something and told everyone else as well. It was the same situation as two years ago. The Gunners had to win in order to keep the pressure up on the top two, and they did win the game in which was a pleasure to behold. Our talented Welshman, Aaron Ramsey, broke his leg in a horrific challenge from Ryan Shawcross. At the time of the tackle Arsenal were being held 1-1 by a stubborn Stoke side.
But Arsenal didn’t stop playing their way to feel sorry for themselves. Instead it spurred them on to win the match for Aaron and they did it in champions’ style. Arsenal had shown that we could cope mentally to overcome what had happened with Ramsey and the Gunners told everyone else that they are fighting until the very end.
If they win the league come May, then that was the game that won it.
Written By Daniel Tucker