Five clear examples of why Arsenal’s 5-point lead over Man City may not be enough

In terms of Arsenal’s title prospects, it’s head vs heart.

In reality, I probably won’t believe Arsenal can lift the Premiership till it’s mathematically impossible to be caught, just because I have been burnt too many times.

My head tells me that mental strength is so crucial in any sport.

Talent gets you so far, but to get over the line you need strong mentality.

Take the emotion out of things and Man City are still favourites in the run in, simply because they have players who have the knowhow to handle the pressure that arrives in March and April.

The Champions have shown for years they can cope with having to play every few days in must-win situations and put winning sequences together.

We know Man City can handle ‘squeaky bum time’, we don’t know that about the Gunners yet.

Not criticism, simply acknowledgement that we have the youngest squad in the division, and dealing with the expectation and dreams of Gooners round the world might be too heavy.

It’s why bizarrely I think it’s more likely we would lift the Prem by a big margin then a short one.

Maybe Man City don’t do enough to threaten our 5 point lead at the top table (with a game in hand)?

Yet if that margin is smaller  with 10 games to go, Pep Guardiola will be acutely aware that he has a dressing room of winners, who are street-wise and know how to handle the occasion.

It’s our quickest ever route to 50 points and some of my peers point out that at that rate we will get 100 points. Yet football doesn’t work like that.

How will our team react if we suffered a shock defeat?

Would doubt creep in If Man City beat us in the League (which they have done for years)?

Can we go to places like Anfield in must-win conditions?

There’s still a lot of football to be played and history shows us that a 5 point lead in January is not impossible to catch …..


1995-1996 Season

Newcastle had a 12 point lead over Man United at the end of January, with the Geordie’s attacking style of football praised throughout the country.

From February it became clear though that the Toon Army were crippled by the fear of failure, almost like they wanted the title too much.

Every week Kevin Keegan tried to play down Man United chipping away at their lead. ‘It’s still 9 points’….’we would have taken a 7-point lead’…. etc.

When United won at Saint James Park, reducing the gap to just 1 point, Sir Alex Ferguson begun the mind games, realising his opponents didn’t know how to turn the tide.

Many felt with such a lead Keegan didn’t need to be as offensive as in his ethos and if he had switched to a more conservative type of game they wouldn’t have dropped silly points.

In reality Keegan didn’t know how to cure their anxiety.



A dismal Xmas saw the Gunners go into the new year 12 points behind Man United with some bookmakers famously paying out already.

It was common knowledge that Arsenal had a couple of games in hand but the defending Champions had points on the board.

When they slipped up at Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham though, a clear path towards the title became clear for Arsenal.

Sir Alex Ferguson knew though we had to still win our games in hand and get a victory at Old Trafford, something we hadn’t done in the Prem era.

The mind games that worked against Kevin Keegan didn’t affect Arsene Wenger. A famous 1-0 win in Manchester put our destiny in our own hands, winning our next 8 games to be champions.



In March, bookmakers started paying out on Arsenal retaining their title after they went 8 points clear (Man Utd had a game in hand).

Following on from winning the Double in the previous campaign, the Gunners set several records and our style of football was praised around the world.

It led to Arsene Wenger famously predicting we could go a whole league campaign without losing a game. He was correct, just a year early with his prediction.

Arsenal didn’t cope well with being the hunted, dropping points at Blackburn and Villa.

A 2-2 draw with United kept our destiny in our own hands, before we threw away a 2-0 lead at Bolton and with it essentially the title.



It is what some Gooners should take notice of, a young Arsenal team were heading 8 points clear at the top of the table in February, and leading Birmingham 2-1.

A Clichy mistake led to us conceding a late penalty.

Instead of our captain putting an arm round the youngsters shoulders, Gallas (one of the few senior players we had) staged a one man sit down protest at the final whistle

It’s believed a youthful squad were impacted by Eduardo breaking his leg that day.

We drew our next 4 fixtures, which allowed Chelsea and Man United to make ground on us.

Defeats at both knocked us out of contention.

In hindsight if Mr Wenger had brought in some experience in January it would have helped.

Thankfully Arteta has been doing that this month.



Some think a 5 point lead with a game in hand is a gap Man City can’t close ……they closed an 8 point gap with only six games left to win their first ever Premiership.

Ironically our future manager scored the Everton goal which at the time seemed to give the initiative to the red half of Manchester .

A loss at Wigan and conceding a late equaliser at home to Everton meant going into the Manchester Derby it was in both teams hands.

City won the Derby, meaning due to goal difference they had the advantage on the final day, setting up the classic Aguero moment.

Still a lot of football to be played, peeps.


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  1. 07/08 we had adebayor, RVP, eduardo and a very young bendtner – after RVP’s usual injury, we were really relying on an eduardo-adebayor partnership to carry us forward, but after the eduardo injury, wenger opted to play a 451 formation with adebayor on his own, with which we struggled to score and dropped a lot of points (mostly through draws if I remember). I do think the psychological impact of the eduardo injury and gallas’ breakdown had a large effect, on the season, but it was also the loss of the two players who would probably been own main goalscorers that season (adebayor played brilliantly and scored 24 goals, but 6 of those were against Derby – still an excellent season, but his role was more of the linker, whereas eduardo and RVP were finishers). I don’t know if we could have bought someone that would have made a difference – we needed a high calibre goalscorer who could hit the ground running; not sure that’s realistic, maybe.

    1. Well Said, boss!👍👍
      Arsenal lost that season due to the Injuries to Robin Van Persie and Eduardo da Silva!
      We then had to depend on Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner who were Notorious missers, like modern day Morata or Timo Werner.😕
      And in the same period, we had AC Milan and Liverpool in the UEFA Champions league, we had Liverpool and the league, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd!😒😧
      Without these Factors, we would have won the Title in 2007/2008, Clean and Clear!

  2. Very true…
    We are still not favourites simply because we still have to play 2 games against City..
    And the depth City has in their squad thanks to Oil Money Charity, they simply can turn around the situation…
    If I am not wrong then recently, May be 3-4 seasons back Liverpool had 50 points in 19 games and still lost the title to City by 1 point..
    So unless we are done with City games and with good amount of lead, we are still not there yet..
    Even If we avoid loss against City in both games and if we still have 8 points lead then partially we can say that we may win..
    We still have to go to Anfield, we still have to play against Chelsea at home, we still have to play against Newcastle at St James’s park..
    Apart from 2 City fixtures these 3 fixtures will also massively affect our tittle chances..
    Even if we avoid loss against City but it’s of no use if we loose at Anfield and St James’s Park…
    And remember Liverpool have beaten the City at Anfield even with such dismal season…

    1. @zKedar did you look at Man city’s fixture lately? Why do you think they are going to win all those games? Arsenal x 2, Tottenham away, Newcastle away, Brighton? Big 15 point games City has to play. Not mentioning Crystal Palace will have everything to fight for. Not forgetting new Aston Villa with Emery. I can assure you that City is going to drop points along the way. City will as well meet Liverpool in Match I didn’t mention that on the fixture list above. City thougher fixture than arsenal. Please don’t remind me about Haaland.

    2. We still can lost the 2 games against city and win another 17 games ..51+50 =101 win all their remaining games 45+54=99 games..if only football works like that..😁

      1. 99 pts.. If… 😁 If the 1st eleven fit till the end we can win the title.. City strenght of dept?.. Mitos..they play well because of the system they play.. That why in gourdiala first season 2016 he doesn’t win any tropy… Arteta inherited a squad full of retirement player..

  3. Yes, hence Trossard and Arsenal’s bid for Caicedo. I think Arsenal will look for a cheaper option

  4. WRONG!
    In those seasons you mentioned, Arsenal were in the UEFA Champions league!
    Currently, we are NOT in the competition.😏😗
    In 2007/2008 season, the ONLY thing that was stopped us from winning the Title was our UCL second round and Quarter final matches against Ac Milan and Liverpool respectively!
    Those 2 matches were too Physically and mentally draining for our Players!😔😟.
    However, this season, We need to Beat Man City at the Emirates!
    A win in that Match will show we can go all the Way! And we will! COYG🙂😊

  5. I think our current squad is better equipped than the 07/08 side who were very young too but the mentality seems stronger in this set of players and this time we have the older heads to help with Partey, Xhaka, Jesus, Zinchenko, Tierney, Trossard and Elneny. Just missing the Midfielder signing now to complete the squad. Hopefully Caicedo is an Arsenal player by Tuesday’s deadline and if not him maybe Zubimendi.

      1. Maybe Chelsea but Man Utd that is questionable, didn’t they have Rooney Ronaldo Tevez and Berbartov.

        1. No but they now have a manager getting a tune out of some mediocre players and getting Rashford scoring lots of goals.

        2. Utds squad was ridiculous that season – we really could have won the title, but in paper they were far better

    1. I think the 07/08 side was great, and had some particularly good players that really clicked. I would argue the current side doesn’t have so much individual quality, but has more depth and, crucially, the players are highly committed to the playing system arteta has implemented. I think this side has arteta’s stamp on it, whereas wenger’s approach was typically too get players with quality and encourage them to show it, with less emphasis on tactics (that’s my reading of it, anyway).
      Arteta’s management approach gives me confidence, as I think we’re far less likely to see players melting down, which means we’re less likely to fall apart – it feels like this squad has more of a team mentality. That said, it’s still the players who have to do it, have to deal with the pressure and fatigue as it ramps up at the end of the season.

  6. Can’t disagree with much in the article but feel like it is making a case that doesn’t need to be made.

    Apart from the random posts of few over enthusiastic fans on social media, it seems most of us have our heads firmly in reality rather than the clouds.

    Five points with half the season gone and two fixtures against City means it is almost a dead heat. We all know that but man it feels great to be in the conversation.

  7. Win our game in hand and we are eight points clear, probably the best away record in the PL, and plenty of home games left, made five changes against City and lost 1-0, with a full strength we I believe would have won. Beaten Spurs twice, Liverpool, and Man Utd. The team is taking one game at a time, with no talk of a title chance, a couple of signings to come and I believe we are the best team in Europe at the moment, and get only get better

  8. We are not the favourites.
    But if we draw against City twice, we need 15 wins to win the title meaning we can loose 2 games.

    We have to look at the positives.

  9. At the beginning of the season I wanted to be in the top 4
    Before the World Cup I wanted us to be in the top 3
    Now I want us to be in the top 2
    If we finished 2nd I’ll consider it to be a success for this young team and manager

    If we win the league it’s a huge success

  10. All five points are totally irrelevant to today in my opinion.

    The owners of PL teams, the squads, the managers, the opponents are all so different today.

    I can only judge MA on HIS results and have done so since he took over the hot seat.

    This season, with the full backing of our owner, he is rivalling every other team in the PL and, it seems we are still trying to strengthen said squad.

    Again, this season has seen the supporters and players come together and there is an air of expectancy around the club.
    This has nothing to do with what went on before and how we may have managed to slip up – it’s all about MA, his squad of players and the fans.

    I don’t know if we will win the PL, but I know I’m excited to watch my club play football this season and it’s worth every penny to cheer them on.

    Why on earth would any other season, or it’s results come in to the equation?

    1. Well said @ken1945. Everything is so different now, why go back in history and bring only the failures of the past, thats negativity taking to another level. U can also go back in history and bring teams that won with 1 point. But u chose the failures. Not that I read everything but when I sense d writer is trying to justify his negativity b4 he even start it, I already know who it was and went straight to the comments. and from the comments I wasn’t wrong….

    2. Why would they “come into the equation” KEN? As all thinkers know, they won’t! Just as you said!
      To extend this DAFT THEORY of long past results having ANY influence on the present, I have long been saying to anyone who has the nous to read and take note, that past and present results are NOT related and no comparisons, in terms of meaningful dialogue, are ever possible.

      It was frankly a nonsensical comparison but given the author, entirely predictable.

  11. Great article Dan, brings us all down to earth instead of celebrating already when there is still half the season to go.
    No matter what others say, I say good facts and stats and a long way to go yet. COYG.

  12. There is still a lot of football to be played, Dan as you so rightly concluded

    Each season will have its own dynamic. I believed that we lost our nerve last season but the squad look a much stronger band of men this time around. The likes of OZ and GJ having been winners must also rub off as does the squad being another year older

    Man City whilst wanting to win the league will definitely want to be European champions first and foremost. The usual top 4 suspects are not at their best either

  13. How I appreciate balanced articles.

    I read all DAN’s examples of why City will catch us.


    Just his inevitable pessimism , aka negativity! SIGH!

    1. @jonfox he has taking negative to another level, the highest level. He might as well balance it to make it a good read

      1. Looks like Dan as joined an ever growing list of people that rubs you up the wrong way eh jonny boy .
        Great to see ,more please Dan 👍

    2. Well said Jon.
      The present team doesn’t contain the psychological hang ups of yester-year. For my money. this Arsenal team are one of the best coached teams in Europe and I’m confident they will focus on what they’ve been coached to do and perform well for the remainder of the season.
      Fans shouldn’t change the narrative, top 4 was the goal this season so let’s just enjoy the next 19 games as no one expected us to push for title until 2024. I think we have a great chance but a very happy Gunner regardless of 1st or 2nd…………….. imagine having that option as the realistic outcome of our season going back to Aug 22….

  14. Being still in January and with half the season still to be played I think it’s pretty obvious that a 5 point lead now doesn’t guarantee any team winning the league. What happened in previous seasons is irrelevant in predicting whether we will stay in the lead given that personnel, managers and owners have changed so much. Let’s just enjoy the ride and the fact we are playing decent football.

  15. Nice article going back to the golden days, though Dan was skill in his cherry picking of the years I do like the post.

    The citizens continue to be the favorite in my opinion,
    Had we had a season manager like Mourinho in charge, he would be telling every Jackman the title race is wide open as any of the current top five teams can win the title race.

    One thing for sure if we managed to get this Caicedo kid over the line, our final rattle leading to the end of this campaign will be hard to withstand

  16. It’s not history based on clubs. It’s history based on managers and available players at that time. The very proud and emotional Kevin Keegan knew how to attack like hell but not to defend even if bets were on life itself. The wily Ferguson was clear winners there with a bigger knife than his purse. Patrick Vieira himself said Arsene Wenger’s greatest strength was equally his greatest weakness. The trust on his players. Players those days played as a method of survival. As society changes, young players don’t have the same preservation or the self responsibility as the older players. That explains his struggles after moving to the Emirates. Such deficiencies stood no chance against the brutally insufferable Mourinho or the awe-inspiring tactician Ranieri. Then, Pep and Klopp came in and blew everyone away with their revolutionary tactics and rich owners. Now, a Spaniard came in and built a cheap awesome high performance engine that would made the Germans proud. Context is very important here as we don’t supporters to have emotional melt down with false info about history. Let’s see facts right now and make a honest prediction on that.

  17. Of course the lead is not enough. Why the need for facts and figures? Common sense says take it one game at a time and do what needs to be done which is take as many points off Manchester City as possible.

  18. Injuries are what cost us a top four finish last season, and I pray it doesn’t happen again. Anything could happen, and City could easily win 10 in a row.

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