Manuel Pellegrini‘s Manchester City team, the bookies’ favorite to win the Premier League crown this season, might have suffered a similar fate like Arsenal did against Mauricio Pochettino‘s determined Southampton outfit, but unlike Pellegrini, Arsene Wenger does not possess a deep squad filled with superstars. Arsenal was on a great run in the League before the draw at Southampton, but given the lack of breathing room at the top of the table they cannot afford to lose any more points in this manner.
The Saints kept Arsenal off the ball and denied proper possession, and barring an inspired period early during the second half, the Gunners did not entirely click into a higher gear as Wenger noted after the match.
Arsenal’s club philosophy means that the management refrains from spending outrageous amounts of money on players just because they are available on the market, and this recent trend in European football has minimized the chances of success for team as the emergence into power of clubs like Manchester City has tightened the margin for error for perennial contenders.
While City and Chelsea can fall back to strong options in the first team whenever required, Arsenal’s injury trouble and weariness mean that they have to be on top of their game during every single match. A fixture against Crystal Palace and one against Manchester United might be entirely different in terms of strategy and opposition strength, but the Gunners’ intensity levels should never differ.
Arsenal have already dropped valuable points against Everton and spurned decent chances against United. They will have only themselves to blame at the end of the season if they fall out of contention early. It is slowly transcending into that time of the year when every goal would be heavily fought for and every lead would be tenaciously protected. The team needs to quickly re-establish its momentum in time for facing the big guns next month.
Arsenal should focus only on procuring the three vital points during each game while Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny do what they are best at. Too long has the club been derided by everyone for lacking the potential to win when it matters the most, and this season is a golden opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong.