Arsenal have genuine character and are no longer imposters in the title race
The extraordinary manner of Arsenal’s implosion towards the end of the 2022/2023 season had the potential to leave considerable scar tissue on Mikel Arteta’s side. In particular, losing to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest at the City Ground which handed Manchester City the title was a moment that could have done irreparable damage to this burgeoning Arsenal team. Forget the glorious sunshine overhead in Nottingham on an idyllic spring evening, this was a dark day for Arsenal and a severe blow at the end of a traumatic run-in.
Hope springs eternal
Yet, just four months after the fixture at the City Ground, Arsenal are priced as the favourites only behind City in the outright Premier League betting odds at 11/2 to win the title.
“It’s a big, big, big game with a lot of history, and it was brilliant to end it in the way we did.”
The boss enjoyed that one
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 3, 2023
Evidently, Arteta’s players have the appetite for another relentless title race. So, what has been behind Arsenal’s resilience?
No pain, no gain
In a word, the answer is pain. Yes, the pain of throwing away an eight-point lead when winning the Premier League looked easier than losing it. The pain of giving those who constantly questioned Arsenal’s title credentials the satisfaction of saying ‘I told you so.’ The personal pain of the players who would have gone on their summer holidays and not known if they would ever be given a better chance of winning the Premier League with Arsenal.
Of course, this emotional hangover from the previous season could have had a negative impact on the start of the new one but instead, the pain of coming so close is driving the Gunners on.
Adversity Spurs Arsenal on
This quick-to-bounce-back mentality is a notable trend under Arteta and if you cast your mind back to the 2021/2022 season, you will see that Arsenal also had to come to terms with an agonising end to that campaign.
On that occasion, the Gunners lost the penultimate game of the season against Newcastle at St James’ Park which meant that Tottenham Hotspur only needed to beat already-relegated Norwich on the final day of the season to pip Arsenal to fourth place.
Again, it was a calamitous May for Arsenal as the defeat to Newcastle was preceded by a North London Derby loss to Spurs. The overall result in the end was that Antonio Conte’s team qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Arsenal.
Instead of letting this sucker punch knock the stuffing out of his players, Arteta galvanised his troops and as we know, the club finished second in the season that followed. Don’t forget that at the time, most pundits said that Arsenal’s failed attempt to qualify for the 2022/2023 Champions League would set the club back immeasurably, only for the Gunners to shoot down those bleak predictions.
Toda a glória a Deus ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ALfGFbt28N
— Gabriel Jesus (@gabrieljesus9) September 3, 2023
Encouragingly, all the signs are pointing towards this being the case again with the obvious question being: can Arsenal go one better and win the Premier League?
While it’s impossible to predict the future, what is certain is that this Arsenal team has an indomitable spirit. It may just be enough for the Gunners to lift the trophy they covet the most.