Arsenal are still atop the Premier League, but their manager Mikel Arteta’s body language after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to Manchester City suggests they have no chance of winning the league.
His team crumbled under City’s relentless assault and may have gotten lucky, what with Kevin De Bruyne scoring twice and John Stones and Erling Haaland also finding the back of the net.
After being second all season to Arsenal, the defending champions will take over first place with a game in hand if they beat Fulham this weekend.
After leading by two goals in each of their last two games against Liverpool and West Ham United, respectively, they were held to 2-2 draws. On Friday, they hosted bottom club Southampton and played to a chaotic 3-3 draw.
Arsenal’s confidence was not bolstered by their recent play, and the London club ultimately lost to Manchester City despite missing the quickness of injured defender William Saliba.
“The first 30 minutes all the basic things you have to do against a top team we didn’t do it and we got punished,” Arteta told reporters. “We played against an exceptional team.
“We’re an exceptional team as well – but today we weren’t at the races.”
Even the most optimistic Arsenal fans will now have to settle for second place, despite the fact that City’s De Bruyne was quick to point out that they still have seven league games to negotiate and that they still trail Arsenal in the race.
Not bad for a team that hasn’t finished in the top four since 2016 and didn’t even have title hopes coming into the season. Not bad for a team that hasn’t finished in the top four since 2016 and wasn’t even considered a title contender before the season began.
“The stats at the start of the season said we’d finish sixth or seventh and we are where we are,” Arteta said.
“The players deserve a lot of credit to be where we are after nine months against this team. There’s still five games to go. I’ve been in this country 22 years and things change a lot.
“Today is a very difficult night but we have to stand up and look at the bigger picture. The fact we are competing toe to toe with this City team is incredible.”