Arsenal FC: Why Can't the Gunners Handle Pressure Anymore?
It has been said enough times over the past few years that Arsenal have failed to win a competitive trophy of any variety for seven consecutive seasons.
Despite the best efforts of long-term coach Arsene Wenger, nothing seems to be able to break this drought, which plagues a side who less then a decade ago were winning everything—even going on a streak that saw them go undefeated for 49 back-to-back league games.
So what has changed for the Gunners?
Well, an obvious point to make would be the fact that the current crop of players—although talented—cannot compete with "The Invincibles" of Henry, Vieira, Pires and Cole.
That being said, it would be a complete and utter lie to say that Arsenal's team isn't good enough to win any of the domestic or European competitions.
After all, Robin van Persie is quite arguably the best out-and-out striker in the Premier League at the moment, with the likes of Wilshere and Walcott providing excellent backup.
Arsene Wenger's tactics can be confusing at the best of times, but generally, the great man puts out the best team and strategies for the occasion.
In my opinion, the main driving factor behind Arsenal's lack of silverware is their inability to cope with the pressure that is put upon them.
Let's think specifically with the league in mind for a moment. In the last seven years, have Arsenal ever come into the last day with a chance of taking the title back to the Emirates?
The answer is no.
Even in seasons where the Gunners have mounted a real charge for the title (last year being a particularly good example), they have always fallen away before it came to the real crunch time.
In fact, last year, they crumbled so badly that the Gooners eventually finished in fourth place.
It's the same story in the cup competitions. As soon as it looks like Arsenal might actually have a decent chance at winning something, the nerves begin to jangle and all skill and technical ability seems to leave them.
Last year, it looked like they would finally end the awful run with a Carling Cup final against the struggling (and latter relegated) Birmingham City.
But it was a case of same old—or should I say same "new"?—Arsenal. Losing when it mattered most.
When you look at Arsenal's current league form, you would think this is all nonsense, but remember, this push towards the top of the table only happened after all chances of winning had long vanquished.
The pressure was off and as such Arsenal have played with the freedom that they should have been playing with for the entire season—as United and City have been.
But what can Arsenal do to get over this recurring dilemma?
Will Arsenal win a trophy next season?
Unfortunately for the Gunners, there isn't really a definitive answer to that question.
In fact, it's probably something that can only be cured when the Gunners next bring home a trophy, but that creates somewhat of a paradox.
The main problem is that the majority of players in the current Arsenal starting XI have never had the chance to gain the experience of seeing out a tournament victory.
And the longer they stay with the Gunners, that mindset of never being able to win anything will slowly start to eat away at their psyche.
You would imagine with the talented selection of players on hand at the moment that Arsenal will be able to win something in the next two years at least.
Hopefully, when this does eventually happen, their fortunes can be turned around and the Arsenal of old will return to grace the Premier League once more.
Until then, it's just more disappointment for Gunners fans.
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