Arsenal show signs of wilting under our old friend, The Pressure | Soccer

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Arsenal show signs of wilting under our old friend, The Pressure | Soccer

Football Daily


Your team four points clear at the top of the table with seven matches left, the destiny of a first Premier League title in 19 years entirely in your own hands and Tottenham Hotspur an even bigger laughing stock than usual? Football Daily doesn’t know much about owt, but we’re fairly certain that if we’d offered Mikel Arteta, his players and tens of thousands of Gooners the scenario above before a ball had been kicked this season, that to a man, woman and giant green furry dinosaur, they would have bitten off our hand – but only once they had stopped laughing at the almost preposterous absurdity of such a notion.

Before a ball had been kicked, even the promise of relentless Tottenham misery or the top four and a return to Big Cup would have cost us several fingers, but such has been the success of the Arteta “process”, one it behoves Football Daily to point out we derided relentlessly in a previous incarnation, that even now they find themselves in the box seat on the season run-in, most Arsenal fans can’t quite bring themselves to believe the thing they dare not speak of that could happen, might happen. In recent weekends, these jitters seem to have percolated their way down on to the pitch, where Arsenal’s previously assured and commendably fearless young players have started showing signs of wilting under our old friend, The Pressure.

On the weekend of the Grand National, Arsenal found themselves two goals up and motoring against West Ham inside 10 minutes, only to pull something of a “Devon Loch” when an emphatic victory looked a formality. After they were pegged back by their hosts and forced to settle for a draw, the eggheads at Opta were quick to point out they had become only the fifth team in Premier League history to Arsenal away a two-goal lead in consecutive matches. The other four? It really doesn’t matter because from this point hence, committing footballing hari-kari in such a fashion will almost certainly be synonymous with the Gooners.

“Very disappointing,” said Arteta in his post-match interview. “The way we started was superb again, we were in total control, then we lost purpose. We gave them hope, conceded a terrible penalty, then credit to them. We got on the rollercoaster where everything is going, corners and throw-ins, and we never got away from that. The purpose we needed for the third and fourth goal, I didn’t see it.” While Arsenal’s players can console themselves with the knowledge that the destiny of the title remains entirely in their own hands, the players of the more in-form Manchester City can do the same and next week’s game between the two sides at the Etihad could scarcely be more significant in the title race.

It’s certainly more significant than the last of the weekend’s round of fixtures at Elland Road tonight, a game where fans of both Leeds and Liverpool would happily embrace the kind of agonies currently being endured by their Arsenal counterparts.


Join Will Unwin for hot minute-by-minute Premier League coverage of Leeds 1-2 Liverpool, kicking off at 8pm (BST).


“The NHS is remarkable beyond words … At the drop of a hat, (the surgeon) is there ready to operate and save my life. I still struggle to get my head around it to this day. Some people call stepping up for a penalty pressure. It is nothing compared to what these guys do” – Bath City’s Alex Fletcher, who suffered a life-threatening brain injury after colliding with a concrete hoarding during a match, talks to Ben Fisher.

Alex Fletcher: on the road to recovery. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/The Guardian


Football Weekly is here to look over the weekend’s action. Hot: Manchester City, Brighton, Aston Villa and anyone who backed Bournemouth to stay up. Not: Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, Tottenham in stoppage time and Peterborough.


“Re: scraps between teammates (Friday’s Daily). Another bizarre/amusing one featured Blackburn’s David Batty and Graeme Le Saux, who decided to settle some unfinished business once and for all in the middle of a Big Cup match” – Barry Stone.

Tim Sherwood, ever the peacemaker. Photograph: PA Images/Alamy

“When I was nine years old, I launched myself into the job market with a paper round. One rainy morning I dropped my bag, soaked the newspapers and was given the boot. No rival newsagents knocked on my door. Football is beautiful but exists in a parallel universe” – Lindsay Williams.

“Re: Mané and Sané . Why is it acceptable to smack someone in the kisser in sport and get a measly game ban and a fine? If I were to clock my peer in work, I’d be sent to the back of the dole queue. These football types get way too much leeway in the roughing-up department” – Weird Unc Fergal Conlon.

“Mané to Sané: ‘No Pané, No Gané'” – Darren Walsh.

“Can we now officially move to include Arsenal as a verb?” – Krishna Moorthy (see above – Football Daily Ed).

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Barry Stone.

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