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Arsenal fall victim to Guardiola’s mental games

Arsenal fall victim to Guardiola’s mental games

Arsenal fall victim to Guardiola’s mental games

Arsenal’s collapse in the race for the English Premier League title revealed its lack of the appropriate mentality and depth of squad needed to topple Manchester City from the throne of the competition, but the only consolation for coach Mikel Arteta is that he made a competitive team.

Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening ended the league race early, as City was crowned champion before playing the last three matches, to win one of the three titles it seeks to achieve this season.

ArsenalArsenal topped the competition for nearly 250 days, but the experienced City stayed close to it, before clinching the summit and winning the title.

Arteta and his players refused to talk about their lack of courage in the title race, but the team’s fans feel sorry for what could have been achieved.

Arsenal led the standings by eight points two months ago and appeared on course to win the title for the first time since manager Arsene Wenger did it in 2004 without suffering any defeat all season.

ArsenalWith an average age of 24, Arsenal was the youngest team in the league, which added to the peculiarity of his ability to compete with City.

The London club has raised expectations so high this season that a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2016-2017 season has become a minor event.

“The same people who thought we would finish the season in sixth or seventh place will now say that being in second place would be a failure,” Arteta told Sky Sports.

Guardiola’s mental tricks

GuardiolaBut the eight-point difference always seemed a mirage, as there were postponed matches for coach Pep Guardiola’s team, who practiced his mental games and praised Arsenal and Arteta, who was his former assistant at City.

Guardiola said last April: “Our problem is that Arsenal has been great so far, it is doing well. Our chances are still there, but there is a better team than you. You have to accept that, acknowledge that and move forward.” Then came the disappointing results of the London team.

The decline began when Roberto Firmino equalized 2-2 in favor of Liverpool in the last minutes against Arsenal, and things ended with Tayo Onyi scoring Nottingham’s winning goal, so Arsenal wasted 15 points in eight matches.

GuardiolaGuardiola has great experience in dealing with the intense competition for titles, and even before Arsenal’s last three games of the season, he put more pressure on the London team.

“He’s definitely going to win his three games,” he said with an expert smile of Arsenal. “Honestly, I’d like him to drop points, but I think he’ll get nine.”

Arsenal lost two of the three matches, stumbling 3-0 at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, before losing again to Forest.

On the other hand, City relied on its experience in the race for the title to win all its matches, including beating rivals the size of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the Champions League, and making its way to the final. The professor outdid his student and Guardiola went on to win the league for the fifth time in six seasons.

Assortment depth

Manchester CityThe depth of City’s line-up, which everyone wished for, was the subject of many conversations, as no player, away from the goalkeeper, had participated in more than 3,000 minutes in a grueling season, compared to the presence of three Arsenal players, defender Gabriel, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard.

Although Arteta’s line-up matched the best in the competition, the injuries that kept prominent players away, such as defender William Saliba, reflected the team’s lack of replacements capable of completing the task.

And after the Arsenal players performed strongly until last April, their strength simply collapsed without room for rotating players. Arteta said: “We wanted to squeeze out what is in this group and find alternatives and ways to reach certain levels. We were not able to do that and this is my job and my responsibility. I have to analyze that and think about it.” He added, “It will not change in three months to be at City’s level, but we have to find another way to do it.”

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