Is Arsenal Too Soft to Win a Premier League Title?


Arsenal has fooled us all again. Just like they do every year, they’ve played some beautiful football that causes us all to think this might be the year they break through and win a title. Then they follow those stylish performances up with soft losses to lesser Premier League teams. Today’s 2-1 loss to West Brom was just another example of the Gunners lacking the spine to be champions.

When everything is clicking for Arsene Wenger’s men they are among the most impressive sides in the Premier League. Skillful attackers like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez prance around the pitch like the world’s most impressive ballerinas. Their coordinated offensive moves are akin to Beethoven’s most rapturous symphony. Unfortunately for Arsenal the Premier League can’t be won on beauty. To win a title you need steel, heart and conviction. Arsenal is woefully short of all three.

We all should have seen today’s horrific performance against West Brom coming. Smart football pundits all over the world had slowly begun to publish their annual, “this might be Arsenal’s year” pieces. The trouble is that the press gets the opportunity to write the same pieces every year. We annually fall in love with Arsenal’s offense and ignore the fact that their defensive underbelly is softer than cotton. It’s the same story every year.

They may yet bounce back from their defeat at West Brom today, but we shouldn’t expect it. At some point we have to accept Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sides as what they are. They are beautiful works of art that please the eye, but lack any real function. They’re a team full of luxury players that lack the workmen to hoist a title trophy.

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Just look at the ratings from the atrocious West Brom performance. Ozil and Sanchez turned in highly rated offensive performances. Sanchez, to his credit was judged to be the Man of the Match by anyone who watched the game with a clue about football. Their offensive players did plenty to win over an over-matched West Brom.

Arsenal once again fell victim in the middle. Think of them as a fighter with a killer upper cut who can’t take a jab to the midsection without hitting the canvas. Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin were an absolute train wreck as a defensive midfield pairing.

Coquelin’s replacement, Mikel Arteta’s performance was an absolute comedy. He topped of his ineptitude with a miss from the penalty spot. It’s not an exaggeration to say these three cost Arsenal the match.

While most of the world (myself included) had begun to think that Arsenal’s title chances hinged on their acquisition of a top-class striker, the real truth is they must sure up their middle if they plan to chase down a title. They simply can’t continue their pattern of devastatingly effective offensive performances against the top teams followed up by shameful defensive performances against the also-rans of the Premier League. If they do, we’ll all have another chance to trot out are “maybe this is the year” columns for Arsene Wenger again next season.