Arsenal find themselves in fourth place once again, as they tasted bitter defeat at the feet of Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Gunners were flying high on the back of a 14 game undefeated run in the Premier League. However, it has all come unraveled in recent weeks, as back-to-back losses to Everton and Manchester City have brought Arsenal back to earth and down to fourth.
The defeat to City was particularly damning, as it helped the victors leapfrog the Gunners into second place. After the game, manager Arsene Wenger stated that the mentality was still strong in his camp.
However, former Manchester United full-back and current Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville seems to disagree with this. He expressed concern at the lack of physical hard-work by the Arsenal players against City, something which he believes reflects the lack of motivation in the side.
“I disagree with his point about mentality being strong, I don’t think it is,” said Neville on Sky Sports.
“There was a huge physical drop for Arsenal in the second half, I’m not quite sure where that has come from. They just looked completely lethargic, they were walking around the pitch, in such a huge game.”
“Initially I thought it was a tactical thing, them not pressurising [in the second half], but they didn’t pressurise at all. They physically just dropped in the second half.”
The lack of hunger was at the fore during the defeat to Manchester City, with midfielder Mesut Ozil in particular being criticised for his lack of impact. After taking the lead in the fifth minute and holding on to it till half-time, the Gunners gave it all away after being dominated completely in the second half.
Arsenal’s mentality has been brought into question before by club legend Thierry Henry. It does seem to be a determining factor in the club’s success, judging from their endeavours in recent years.
The Gunners are capable of putting in some brilliant performances, but seem to falter as the league season goes on. They can boast of a side that is more than capable of dismantling top class opponents, as they showed against Chelsea earlier this season, but sometimes don’t seem to have the desire to win.
This is something that Arsene Wenger and the other coaches at the club need to look into immediately if he hopes to finally recapture the elusive Premier League title.