Arsenal’s battle to win the Premier League title has come slightly off the rails over the past month with back-to-back defeats to Everton and Manchester City. They were even forced to come from three goals down to salvage a point away to Bournemouth to keep themselves in the mix.
The Gunners are following the trend that has dogged them over the past 13 years in their pursuit of securing another top-flight crown. Since last lifting the title in the 2003-04 campaign, Arsene Wenger’s men have hit the self-destruct button several times in the second halves of seasons, including last term, when they lost out to Leicester City.
Alexis Sanchez’s excellent form has kept them in the race at the top of the table almost single-handedly this season, with the Chilean notching 14 goals in the Premier League alone. However, the Gunners even face a challenge to retain their usual place in the top four due to the intense competition, with Wenger’s men currently backed at 4/6 in the latest football betting odds to even finish in the Champions League spots.
The Gunners have struggled with consistency throughout the term. When they are playing with confidence in their passing game in the final third, there are few teams that can compete with them. Sanchez has been at the driving heart of that form not only with his goals but also with his link-up play with Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
It was Sanchez’s pass that released Walcott to open the scoring against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in a match where the Gunners should have taken away all three points. They dominated the first half, but were unable to add to the scoreline before their lack of concentration allowed Pep Guardiola’s men back into the contest and then go on to win the game.
City were able to nullify Sanchez’s threat in the second half, which shut Arsenal down completely as Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott along with the Gunners’ other creative players were unable to lift the level of their performances.
The same situation occurred days earlier when Wenger’s men were all over Everton in the first half thanks to an early goal from the Chilean, but as the match wore on, Sanchez’s threat became limited and the Toffees’ capitalised on the North London outfit’s weakness at the back, securing the three points at Goodison Park.
After a horrendous opening hour against Bournemouth, Sanchez was the driving force behind their incredible comeback. He first found the net before teeing up Olivier Giroud for their late equaliser and snatching a point from the jaws of defeat. Should anything happen to the Chilean, the Gunners hopes of the title will be gone and their challenge for a top-four place would be in jeopardy.
Wenger has to find a way to cajole performances out of the surrounding talent in his team, like Liverpool have done this season. All the pressure has not been on one man to perform and this has helped them compete at the top of the table, despite injury problems. Giroud, Walcott, Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have to stand up and be counted otherwise it could be a further season of disappointment for the Gunners.