A Draw is the new Loss By Ahnaf Islam
Picture this: you are a Manchester United fan in the early 2000s and just witnessed your club draw against your local rivals Manchester City at your home ground early into the season.
Would you be disappointed? Sure. Would you consider your team at a severe disadvantage in the title race already just on the basis of these 2 dropped points? Not really.
Fast forward 20 odd years and the latter question would be met with a resounding yes. Arsenal drew against Tottenham Hotspurs at the Emirates in what looks to be an early stumble in the Gunners’ title aspirations. It is baffling that a draw or two, while the season is still in its infancy, is enough to discredit your ability as a title contender.
Of course, Arsenal fans know that the battle with Manchester City is far from over. However, it is impossible to deny the psychological effect of the 4-point gap with City seeming to not even find their top gear yet. The two games drawn so far really do feel like losses, despite one of them being against a resurgent Spurs side.
The margin of error, if you want to win a Premier League title, is slimmer than ever, to the point where a draw can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place- just ask the Liverpool team a few seasons back, or the Arsenal team that suffered consecutive draws against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton last season.
Whereas draws for title-chasing teams a few decades ago seemed like a point gained, it almost always feels like 2 points dropped when you are competing against the ruthless juggernaut that is Manchester City. Anything short of perfection will be punished; worryingly for the league, only the defending champions possess a squad capable of achieving such theoretical “perfection,” both in terms of quality and mentality of the players.
If you want to snatch the title from them, you better produce something remarkable like the near-invincible, near-centurion season Liverpool had in 2019-20. Winning the Premier League is never meant to be easy, but it has never been this unfathomably difficult.
So where does that leave Mikel Arteta’s men? Although City were said to have started the last season slowly, they racked up an impressive 89 points- which arguably could have been well over 90 had the Gunners pushed them until the very last matchday.
Interestingly, last season, City had 14 points from their first 6 games (4 wins and 2 draws), the same as Arsenal this season. You can
view this in two different ways. Either you can conclude that indeed, Manchester City is the only team capable of drawing 2 games early into the season and still go on to lift the title, thus the ‘drawing equals to loss’ hypothesis does not apply to them.
Or you can see it as an opportunity for Arsenal to take inspiration from City themselves and try to achieve something extraordinary – the new prerequisite to winning the Premier League where drawing games is simply not an option..
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