Is Arsenal’s Capitulation the Biggest ‘Bottle Job’ in Premier League History

At the start of April, Arsenal were the surprise leaders of the Premier League and by some distance. They had just defeated Leeds United by four goals to one at the Emirates courtesy of a Gabriel Jesus double, and it looked as though a first Premier League crown in almost two decades was within touching distance. Reigning champions Manchester City were their closest rivals however, they were some eight points behind the Gunners with a game in hand, and with the pair due to square off at the end of the month.

Arsenal Fall Apart

But ever since that victory on April 1st at North London, the wheels have well and truly come off. Mikel Arteta’s men headed to Liverpool the following week and surrendered a two-goal lead, eventually managing to hang on for a point. The week after that, they once again threw away a two-goal lead, this time away at West Ham United.

Those two capitulations allowed Pep Guardiola’s Blues to close the gap right up to their nearest rivals. But the worst was yet to come. Arsenal could only manage a 3-3 draw – and they had to score two late goals to even salvage that – at home to Southampton, the team bottom of the English topflight and the leading candidates for the drop.

Three consecutive draws meant that The Gunners headed to the Etihad on April 26th with all the pressure in the world on their young shoulders. City were now just five points behind with two games in hand. Arsenal knew that they had to get a result in Manchester to have any hope of remaining as genuine title contenders.

Manchester City Assert Their Dominance

However, their hopes of victory were all but extinguished after just seven minutes when Kevin De Bruyne gave the hosts the lead with a brilliant long-range strike. Then, in fitting fashion and summing up Arsenal’s last few weeks, the wheels once again came off the bus. The Gunners couldn’t string any forward passes together, made a number of mistakes, and provided no urgency whatsoever, and they were punished for it.

Further goals would follow, firstly from John Stones, then a second from Kevin De Bruyne, before Norwegian hotshot Erling Haaland added a fourth late on. Rob Holding managed a consolation goal before the game was over, but a 4-1 drubbing was the least that City deserved. Websites that provide sports and casino betting opportunities such as Bovada now make the reigning champions the overwhelming favorites to retain their crown, and they are priced as short as -1200 with some outlets.

Securing a Premier League title is never easy, especially when you have a squad as inexperienced as Arsenal. The Gunners have the youngest squad in the Premier League and they have bounced back magnificently from last season’s disappointing ending, where two defeats in the final three games cost them a first return to the Champions League since the days of Arsene Wenger. However, there can be no denying that they may very well go down in history as the division’s worst-ever bottle jobs, despite their tender years or the fact that they may come again in years to come.

Liverpool Slip Up in 2014

Make no mistake about it, plenty of teams over the years have managed to throw their Premier League winners’ medals down the drain. Arsenal will be disappointed at how their campaign has ended, however, if you would have told them at the start of the season that they would secure that long-awaited return to the Champions League and be genuine title contenders up until the end of April, they’d have bitten your hand off. The same can be said for Liverpool in 2014.

Coming off the back of three consecutive finishes outside of the top four, The Reds announced their return to the Premier League elite nine years ago with a brilliant campaign. Built on the brilliance of Luis Suarez, the Merseysiders managed to thrill their supporters with several scintillating displays that saw them become genuine contenders once more. They would defeat Manchester City in mid-April thanks to a late Philippe Coutinho goal, and the victory left them two points clear of Chelsea and seven points clear of City with just four games remaining.

Barely a fortnight later however, their season was in tatters after Jose Mourinho’s Blues managed to secure a 2-0 victory at Anfield with some nefarious “anti-football” tactics. A week later, they threw a three-goal lead away at Crystal Palace to draw 3-3, and their season was over, handing the title to their rivals from across the M62.

Manchester City Steal Title from Under United’s Nose in 2012

It seems a common occurrence for teams to stumble when they come up against Manchester City. Their archrivals Manchester United did the same thing in 2012. After defeating QPR on April 8th by two goals to nil, the Red Devils went eight points clear at the Premier League’s summit with just six games to play.

The following week, however, they would lose 1-0 away at Wigan. They would then draw 4-4 with Everton before losing in a six-pointer away at the Etihad. That saw the two sides go level on points with just two games to play. It was City who had the superior goal difference though, and they would hold their nerve to secure their first English top-flight crown in 44 years.