Premier League Rounds 18 & 19: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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The Bad

Arsenal are taken apart by Southampton

Arsenal’s match with Southampton was a complete disaster. Not a single player who stepped onto the pitch wearing the Gunners strip could say they did not play a hand in this embarrassing defeat.

To lose on the road against Southampton is not embarrassing. To lose the way Arsenal did is absolutely pathetic.

They lost 4-0 because they quit once they went down 2-0. Supporters deserve more than to see their club’s players quit on any match.

They are paid to handsomely and ticket prices are too high for that to be something players are willing to do.

Also, Arsenal showed their lack of mental toughness by checking out when the going got tough in this match. Take a peek at the match ratings for the Arsenal players in the starting 11 for the Southampton match:

Petr Cech: 5.42

Hector Bellerin: 6.18

Laurent Koscielny: 6.95

Per Mertesacker: 6.06

Nacho Monreal: 6.36

Aaron Ramsey: 6.65

Mathieu Flamini: 6.06

Joel Campbell: 5.95

Mesut Ozil: 6.18

Theo Walcott: 6.05

Olivier Giroud: 6.28

Contrast that to Southampton, who had three players above 8.0 and only two starters who finished below a 7.0 match rating.

Arsenal almost doubled Southampton in passes during the match (600-331) and were still beaten in shot count (14-8). WhoScored’s match report listed Arsenal as having “no significant strengths” during the match.

This fragile mentality when the going gets tough is, I suspect, one of the reasons why Premier League teams have underachieved a bit in Europe lately.

You will be tested in the Champions League. There will be moments of adversity, and how you handle those situations mentally and ultimately respond to them is what defines your campaign.

Arsenal were able to navigate a horrible start and qualify in second place from their group, but they should have never been in that situation to begin with.

Just when you think they have things turned around in the Premier League, they pull out a result like the Southampton game and it becomes clear why they have failed to win the Premier League since 2004.

Arsenal recovered to beat Bournemouth in their next match and are top of the table on goal difference.

This Premier League season has been defined by its strange results and closeness throughout the table. No team has yet been able to take control and pull away from the pack.

Can Arsenal be that team? I do not think they are capable of pulling away from the pack, but that might not be necessary in this year’s edition of the Premier League.

Here are the point totals for the Premier League champions over the last several seasons:

2014-15: 87

2013-14: 86

2012-13: 89

2011-12: 93

2010-11: 80

2009-10: 86

2008-09: 90

2007-08: 87

2006-07: 89

2005-06: 91

2004-05: 95

2003-04: 90

2002-03: 83

2001-02: 87

2000-01: 80

1999-00: 91

1998-99: 79

1997-98: 78

Every Premier League season’s champion going back through 2000-01 had a higher point total than the current pace of the leaders.

The last time a team won the league with a lower point total than the current pace was … Arsenal in 1997-98.

If Arsenal want to win the Premier League this season then they will need to avoid results like the one they had against Southampton.

Next: The Ugly