Former Arsenal star Anders Limpar says the mentality of this team needs to be questioned as he feels the players ultimately let down manager Mikel Arteta by letting a good lead slip in the Premier League title race.
The Gunners were top of the table for much of the season and only recently went on a poor run that allowed Manchester City to overtake them, with Pep Guardiola’s side now just one win away from being confirmed as champions.
Few would have expected Arsenal to be City’s main challengers before the start of the season, but it’s fair to say Arteta has done a fine job with this side and they will surely be back again as a force to be reckoned with next term.
Limpar is disappointed, however, with how some of the team’s main players seemed to struggle mentally at this crucial stage of the season, with the Swede suggesting questions need to be asked about certain individuals.
“Arsenal have won two of their last seven games in the league, and at one stage we were eight points clear of Manchester City. Quite simply, since the start of April until now, our biggest stars haven’t produced. We have to ask questions of the mental side of this team right now; they’re a hell of a team, but for some reason, the mental state of our key players just hasn’t been there in the last six or seven weeks,” Limpar exclusively told Ladbrokes Fanzone.
Arsenal have allowed Man City to take control of the title race
“Aside from that, they’ve been outstanding, but people have to know that to win the Premier League, you have to mentally be at it right up until the very end. Credit to City, though, because they’ve been plodding along and closing the gap all the time. I’m just sad to say that Arsenal’s stars haven’t been there mentally of late.
“You’ve got Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta up there at the top of the table with their teams, in the toughest division in the world. They’re two of the best managers in the world; Guardiola has more experience when it comes to this stage of the season, and he has the luxury of being able to constantly rotate his squad, much more than Arteta does.
“They’ve had to play so many more games than Arsenal, particularly since the start of April, too. Arsenal have no excuses when it comes to losing this title. We could’ve easily won it if everyone turned up, but they didn’t. It’s sad because halfway through the season I was convinced it was Arsenal’s year, but City have been absolutely outstanding up to this point.
“Arsenal have been unfortunate with injuries, but you have to cope with it; every team has to deal with that, it’s not an excuse. It’s a question of mentality for me. We are equally as good as Manchester City, player for player, when it comes to ability on the pitch… we are level. But when these big games come around, the key players have to step up mentally. They have to be strong, because it’s not a question of their ability; I believe the squad is as strong as City’s.
“Arteta is a very clever guy, a great manager, equally as good as Guardiola. I’m just sorry to say that his key players didn’t turn up over the last few weeks. Too many draws in a row, and then losing to City, that was the real turning point, of course. That was the key moment. Even winning one of those games would’ve kept it in Arsenal’s hands, I think. It’s sad.”