Arsenal run out of steam in the last straight

We were a neck ahead going into the final straight. Then Manchester City found the extra gear that everyone knew they had and galloped away.

Arsenal have ended up labouring to 2nd, and whilst it is disappointing to have run out of steam having set the pace for much of the race, the class of Manchester City needs to be recognised.

There is a reason why Manchester City were 1/2 odds on favourites to win the Premier League before the off. Arsenal meanwhile were 33/1 6th favourites.

City are a well oiled machine. The finances to invest in the best horses (players) and trainers (Pep). Arsenal had the fresh faced stable boy (Mikel) competing for the top honours for the first time.

Whilst we began to stumble over the last few fences, City kept getting stronger. 40 points from their last 42 available is a run that no one would have been able to keep pace with.

The post-race criticism risks going to far, and becoming too criticial of a great race we had run up until that final straight.

Former Arsenal captain and failed football manager Patrick Vieira gave his expert opinion on Sky.

“What they (Arsenal) are missing is this physical presence,” he said. “This kind of leadership where people can get at the back of players when they are not performing at the level that Arsenal expect.

“For me, they will have to build a team with more personality and more competitiveness. I think the Arsenal team, there is quality, there is no doubt about it. They are playing some really good football, but there is still a difference between them and Manchester City.”

“When you look at Manchester City you look at the physical attributes of the players, the physicality. They are six foot three or six foot four, so it’s important for Arsenal and Mikel [Arteta] to identify what they are missing and try to improve that side of the game.”

It is no surprise that Patrick Vieira got fired by Crystal Palace when his view is that “Manchester City are physically bigger than Arsenal”.

Man City have the smallest squad in the Premier League. So clearly Arsenal are not missing “physical presence” in comparison to Manchester City.

The main difference between the two is not physical presence or leadership. It is simply that Manchester City have better players, and more of them. And is why their wage bill is twice of Arsenal’s.

Whilst we relied on the same core 12-14 players, Manchester City were able to rest and rotate throughout the season without seeing a drop off in quality. That meant when it came to that final stretch, the Championship rounds, they were fresher.

Despite Manchester City playing in more games, Arsenal players dominate the top 3 minutes played per position for outfield players:

Those forward positions make the most interesting of reading.

Whilst Manchester City were able to rotate Jack Grealish (3217 minutes), Riyad Mahrez (2802 minutes), Phil Foden (2355 minutes), Arsenal had to over-rely on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli – with Leandro Trossard only becoming an option for the second half of the season (2272 total minutes played for Arsenal and Brighton).

When you break this down into “full 90 played”:

Saka – 39 full games
Martinelli – 38
Grealish – 35
Mahrez – 31
Foden – 26
Trossard – 25

It is no surprise that Saka and Martinelli look exhausted whilst Mahrez looks fresh and a daisy when you look at that work load.

What Arsenal are missing is not physical presence or leadership, as Patrick Vieira said. They are missing better strength in depth. But this is not exactly breaking news.

The addition of Trossard is a fantastic one. He has added depth to the wings where their was none before the season.

We now need to replicate that sort of acquisition in defence, midfield and up-front. That will enable us to reduce the game time of the likes of Saka, Martinelli, Xhaka, White and more. Giving them a break which will result in them being fresher as hit the final straight.

Manchester City are an experienced thoroughbred, whilst Arsenal were competing in their first Grade 1 event. We just need to keep the team together, and build on it.

We go again next season.




1 thought on “Arsenal run out of steam in the last straight

  1. Mike Ram

    Excellent point. One of key reasons why Man City are fresh and competitive all season is because of their fullbacks and wingers always get rotated. Because they have the quantity and quality in abundance. I wonder why football fans believe the words from pundits who were failed managers. Never once there were sessions to discuss about Arsenal’s good form earlier, only plenty of reasons to fail. Perhaps they know that very well because they are the epitome of failure themselves.



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