Arsenal nearly succumb to Achilles heel once more

If Arsenal do not win the Premier League title this season, they will only have themselves to blame. In a campaign where Chelsea have slipped way below their best and Manchester United have often flattered to deceive, the Gunners have been given their best platform to secure the league title since their last triumph back in 2004.

However, their immaturity and soft centre continues to blight their cause as once again they came close to dropping points at Blackpool, when they should have had the game well and truly sewn up by half-time. Arsene Wenger’s men must be an absolute delight to support when they play the kind of football they played in periods of the first half at Bloomfield Road, but that joy must be outweighed by the fact they simply refused to put the game beyond their opponents as they tried to walk the ball into the net. Their child-like naivety to the situation is somewhat endearing, but it has cost them numerous points over the last few years as they give their opponents the opportunity to get back into the game.

The gap between Arsenal and Blackpool on Sunday afternoon was striking. The Gunners ripped the Tangerines backline to shreds at times, while completely bossing the centre of midfield. However, the Gunners could easily have come away with just a single point from a game in which they totally outclassed their opponents. Cesc Fabregas’ goal-line clearance made sure they went into half-time with their two goal lead in tact, while Jens Lehmann could have been sent off in addition to a penalty instead of Blackpool’s first goal, and Laurent Koscielny was lucky not to give away a second half spot-kick with the game at 2-1.

The 10 minute period of play directly after Blackpool scored to make it 2-1 was as astonishing as it was inevitable. Neutrals and Arsenal fans alike knew that the north Londoners’ failure to put the game out of sight in the first half would come back to haunt them, and this Gunners side has experience in folding when under pressure. It’s in stark contrast to their title rivals, United, who are so adept at dragging points from positions they have no right to, instead of throwing them away when they should be done and dusted.

The winners of this year’s title are likely to need the lowest points tally in the history of the Premier League in order to do so. For Arsenal, this is a fantastic opportunity – one they look like letting slip through their grasp. Their squad is as talented – if not more so – than anyone else’s in the league, and they play the most penetrative and beautiful football anyone has to offer. But the sheer ruthlessness of a United or Chelsea looks likely to get the better of them for years to come if something does not change.

Sunday’s win at Bloomfield Road was the result Wenger’s side wanted in order to keep themselves in the title race, but the manner in which they achieved the victory only points to the Gunners falling short yet again in their quest for Premier League glory.

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