Arsenal owes me $100
I was cocky. I was confident. Arsenal had an eight-point lead over Manchester City in January, so of course I was going to back my team when my Manchester City-supporting friend offered me a bet on who would win the Premier League title.
Four months later, City won the title and the only thought that keeps going through my head is that Arsenal owes me $100.
I should have seen it coming. If any team is known for crumbling, it’s Arsenal. They crumbled in the 2002-2003, 2007-2008, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 seasons when it looked like they could have a shot at winning the title.
Last year, Arsenal looked destined to make its return to the Champions League. All it had to do was win two of its last three games. In typical Arsenal fashion, it lost two of them, first to Tottenham and then to Newcastle.
This year seemed different though. t wasn’t just the points lead it had. It was the atmosphere and feeling around the club. The players looked connected on the field in a way I have never seen an Arsenal team look before. They looked happy to be playing with one another and prouder than any Arsenal team I can remember wearing the Arsenal shirt.
Even after the 3-1 home loss to Manchester City, I still believed. The 3-2 comeback victory over Bournemouth in March had me in a state of delusion. Arsenal seemed invincible, and I never would have believed I would be saying it owes me $100 at the end of the season.
Then, they played Sporting CP in the Europa League Round of 16. William Saliba got injured and lost in penalties. Arsenal won only four of its next 10 games in the league following this. This lull in form was enough for City to close the gap and leave us in the dust in the race for the title.
I blame three things for Arsenal’s demise: the World Cup, Saliba’s injury and Erling Haaland. Before the World Cup, Arsenal had a five-point lead over Manchester City; it had won 12 out of 14 games with only one loss and was looking like the best team in the league.
Arsenal didn’t look the same after the World Cup, even though it still had good performances at times. Would Manchester City have won the league without the World Cup break interrupting the season? Probably. But the break definitely hurt us more than it helped us.
Saliba’s injury also played its part. With Saliba and Gabriel in the back, Arsenal looked incredibly solid defensively. Without Saliba, it was left with Rob Holding. Holding’s presence and Saliba’s absence led to its drop in form that allowed City to capitalize and basically ensured that I would lose my $100 bet.
Ultimately, however, Manchester City is the better team. They have depth in every position, Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings in attack and of course, Erling Haaland. This is ultimately why Arsenal owes me $100. Manchester City is just too good this year. After all, there is a reason they have a chance at completing the treble. They are the best team in the world, and as soon as Arsenal showed weakness, City pounced.
At the end of the day, I would have taken a second-place finish at the beginning of the year. Arsenal’s last time in the Champions League was in the 2016-2017 season, and a return to the Champions League is massive for the club.
In addition to this, the future is bright. Arsenal is tied with Southampton as the youngest team in the league with an average age of just 24.4. A second-place finish with a squad this young is very exciting, and if Mikel Arteta can keep the base of the squad together and make the right additions, it’s going to be a force for many years to come.
I still think Arsenal owes me $100, however. Arsenal had one hand on the trophy and absolutely crumbled. It tied Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton in successive games.
Now I owe my smug friend $100. You better believe that he is going to receive his money in the most annoying arrangement of pennies, nickels and dimes imaginable.
Please don’t do this to me again Arsenal.
SUBSCRIBE to the Vendetta YouTube Channel!
CLICK HERE for more soccer content!