Hopefully Manchester City’s thrashing of Real Madrid can put an end to any talk of Arsenal bottling the title CaughtOffside

Hopefully Manchester City’s thrashing of Real Madrid can put an end to any talk of Arsenal bottling the title CaughtOffside


Watching Manchester City take apart Real Madrid with such ease last night on their way to what will surely now be a famous treble victory and it already feels like a long time ago that people seriously entertained the notion of Arsenal ‘bottling’ this season’s Premier League title race.

Take a moment to fully take in what we’ve just witnessed – one of the most one-sided semi-finals we’ve seen at this level, with an historic name like Real Madrid barely getting a touch of the ball in the first half in particular, and coming away with their joint-heaviest defeat in this competition. The Champions League’s greatest club, led by one of the competition’s most successful managers, simply had no answer to this pretty much flawless team.

This Man City side is on another planet right now, and while their tremendous wealth may have set them on this path, it is far from the only factor. They have had some great players in the last fifteen years, but let’s not forget that they finished fourth, behind Leicester City, Arsenal and Tottenham in the final season before Pep Guardiola arrived. His appointment as manager has taken this team to heights that other cash-rich clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea never reached, and by the end of this campaign we will surely look back and remember one of the all-time great club sides, better even than Pep’s legendary Barcelona sides.

Manchester City are surely going to win the treble this season

Yes, Arsenal were five points clear at the top of the table not so long ago, but they were there with the knowledge that they had this City side chasing them and that there was absolutely no room for the kind of slip-up that title winners of the past would have got away with. Yes, Arsenal were good enough to avoid the calamities against West Ham and Southampton, but Manchester United’s treble winners were also good enough to beat relegated Blackburn and 16th-placed Wimbledon in a run of four wins from their final eight games in that season’s title run-in; such a run these days with a juggernaut like City waiting to pounce would also constitute ‘bottling it’.

Arsenal certainly started to show nerves in that crucial run of games that saw them lose their grip on first place, but who can blame them? In many other title races in the past the leaders would see some sign of their rivals slipping up, but City just kept on winning. They have now won 17 and drawn two of their last 19 games in all competitions, with those draws coming away to Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. You have to go all the way back to the 18th of February for the last time they failed to win a domestic match. They’ve won 11 in a row in the Premier League. They have won all 16 of their home games in 2023.

Liverpool were near-perfect last season and still couldn’t stop them. Liverpool were near-perfect in 2018/19 and couldn’t stop them. Surely we’ve worked out by now that it’s grossly unfair to label anyone failing to keep up with this City team as bottlers. Arsenal gave them a bigger scare than anyone this season, and should, if anything, be better prepared for the task next year.

For now, however, we are witnessing football perfection, and a higher standard than we’ve ever seen in the game. Good luck to the rest of world football in trying to stop it.

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