London - To win a Barclays Premier League title the top players - the really top players - take responsibility. They must hurt so badly after suffering a 6-3 thrashing at Manchester City that their blood boils for nine days in the build-up to Chelsea at home. They watch the results thunder in from Anfield, where Liverpool beat Cardiff 3-1, and Craven Cottage, where Manchester City beat Fulham 4-2.
And then they vow to reclaim top spot on Monday evening. They attack on the front foot at home and forget about defeats at City, against Napoli and the draw against Everton here at the Emirates on December 8.
That’s what the top players do. Someone has to be the match winner against Chelsea. Someone has to play the perfect pass. Someone has to lead this club to the Premier League title.
Forget the aesthetics, the hugs and high fives between every Arsenal player after the welcome song by Elvis - the Wonder of You - fades away
It’s looks very pretty and enhances every occasion at the Emirates, but it really comes down to who finishes first in the Premier League. They must have a taste of it after their blistering start to the season and yet they look and feel like their race is run already.It will be no good, after the final game of the season against Norwich at Carrow Road on May 11, looking around admitting they could have done more.
They have led the league for too long to let slip the chance of winning the club’s first league title since 2004. This is their time, it has to be.
It includes the likes of Theo Walcott, a player who has been at Arsenal since his move from Southampton in January 2006. With a new contract signed last season and his future at the club secure, he should be captaincy material. He ought to demand it.He scored twice against City and he should have been twisting Cesar Azpilicueta’s blood down the right.
Apart from a valid appeal for a penalty when Willian clattered into him in the first half, that was his only significant contribution.The same can be said of Mesut Ozil, who spent another game on the edges. For all his talent, Arsenal are entitled to expect a bit more.
His bust-up with Per Mertesacker when he walked off the field at the Etihad has blown over, but Ozil plays the game a different way.He waits for the ball to come to him, but the Emirates has to be his playground. He is good enough to influence games at any level.Then there is the relentless running of Aaron Ramsey and those glorious goals that marked him out as the best midfielder in Europe in the first phase of the season.
There is no hiding place now that they have been caught at the top for the Barclays Premier League. It’s time to dig in.That’s what title-winning teams do when they are under threat and Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, must know just how vulnerable his team are looking.
They made far too many mistakes, with careless back passes costing them corner after corner after corner in the first half. It was clumsy and could easily have cost them.There was apathy in the air at the Emirates. They don’t need this, not when they have games to win in the Premier League. Up in the gods there were also plenty of empty seats, maybe 5 000 in the second tier alone. That is what happens when TV plans a potential humdinger two days before Christmas and yet this game should still have offered more.
There should have been more clues and yet Arsenal were full of trepidation and fear on their own territory.They were beaten here by Mourinho’s team in the Capital One Cup and yet they have to forget about the odd setback.
Wenger will never admit it, but his record against Mourinho will be eating away at him. He just cannot find a way to win. There is nothing to be afraid of in that Chelsea team any more and yet Arsenal show far too much respect. After this they must take responsibility.