Defeat To Spurs' Reignites Old Doubts: Are Arsenal Really Chokers?
Another bright start to the season. Another chance to achieve glory. Another dismal performance. Another failure. Another season coming to a frustrating end. Another agonising wait for silverware.
This in short defines Arsenal's 2009-10 season.
The aforesaid sequence enumerates the boring routine that a Gooner has been bearing for the last couple of seasons.
Arsenal have been criticised by many critics to be "Chokers." Their last few seasons have a stark similarity to that of South Africa in international cricket. They make a bright start, create hopes among their fans, and then suddenly fizzle out toward the end of the season.
Arsenal as usual made a bright start to the 2009-10 season similar to the past couple of years. There was the disciplined football combined with accurate passes characterized by the Gunners' style of play. The players looked in their top forms and the buzz around Emirates was that this could well be the year for Wenger and his talented youngsters to win some silverware.
The season was looking bright for Arsenal till November and they looked and played like deserving title challengers with convincing wins against Wigan, Everton, Aston Villa, and the likes.
Then tragedy struck Wenger & Co. Their in-form striker, the talented Dutch international Van Persie was injured while playing an international fixture for his home country. The injury meant he would be absent for almost the rest of the season.
After the injury to Van Persie many people had ruled out the Gunners' title chances in absence of their talisman striker. But the Gunners' performed very impressively and stayed in the title race. They twice reduced their difference with league leaders Chelsea and even led the race for a couple of weeks. But then started a dismal run.
It has been seen in the last couple of seasons(i.e. 2006/07 and 2007/08) that Arsenal played well till November. But then post-November/December the Gunners' form and consistency faltered.
During the 2007/08 season, Arsenal were leading their nearest rivals United by 12 points at the end of 2007. Then a string of poor run in January 2008 saw Arsenal gather only a point. After that they literally fizzled out unable to handle the pressure and conceded their 12 point lead as well as the title to United.
With Chelsea's successive losses to Inter Milan and Manchester City it was deemed that Arsenal had high chances to win the 2009/10 Premier League after a gap of six years. Their only competition was Ferguson's Red Devils.
But where Chelsea clawed back from their slip-up Arsenal choked under the pressure. They were held to a draw with Birmingham City when Chelsea went ahead demolishing the stingy Villans 7-1 and then United 2-1 to secure their grip at the top.
Arsenal still had a chance at the title if they won all their remaining matches and Chelsea lost or drew a couple of their fixtures. But yesterday's loss to Spurs' virtually ended their quest for a fourth Premier League title.
After reducing the difference with Chelsea to nil at one point they are again six points adrift from the league leaders with a mere four matches to play. There chances are all but over and even Lord Jesus may be unable to help them.
Chelsea, after their shock Champions League exit and loss to Manchester City, seems to have found back their rhythm. With the advantage conferred to them by United's and Arsenal's slip-ups, it looks highly unlikely that the Blues' will let go of their "Double" dreams all so easily.
Yesterday's loss brought to the fore again the long standing debate that post-Henry era, the Gunners' have turned "Chokers" from being "world-beaters". It looks that Wenger's young team are unable to handle the pressure at the top of the Premier League. Not once, not twice, but thrice have they fizzled out from the title race at the end of the season.
After United's draw against Blackburn on Sunday, Arsenal had the chance to take the second position and keep pressure on the Blues'. But they were outdone and outshone by the inspired Spurs'. With the defeat at the hands of Tottenham, Wenger's chances of winning any silverware this season are all but over.
Wenger's failure to win any trophies in the past six years has led to doubts over his young team's credibility and potential for being champions. Though Wenger and the Gooners' are hopeful that this young team will surely shine, there has been very few positive signs to substantiate their claim.
Moreover, Arsenal's failure to cope with pressure and their twice conceding the league at end of the season after being in a comfortable position has earned them the title of "Chokers" from various circles of the sports world.
Arsenal's young talented Gunners' need to perform really well and win some silverware if they want to remove the "Chokers" tag from the back of their names. They need to handle the pressure as well as maintain their consistency throughout the season if they want to win any silverware. If not, this young team may go down in the pages of history as "the team who could achieve many feats but never achieved anything."
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