Is complacency the reason behind Arsenal’s poor form?


Arsene Wenger admits that the Arsenal players thought they would be in the top four again this season.

With Manchester United radically going off the boil and Tottenham Hotspur failing to capitalise on their early season promise, Arsenal were pretty much guaranteed a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Or so the players thought, according to manager Arsene Wenger, who has admitted for the first time that his team have been guilty of complacency this season.

"Maybe yes, we felt 'that is done'," said the Frenchman when asked if the squad had assumed that it would make the top four.

It is a damning admission and raises a lot of questions about the mentality of the Arsenal players, who at one stage of the season were striving for the title and are now hoping – not expecting - to finish fourth.

In a recent interview that can be interpreted in so many ways, midfielder Santi Cazorla claimed that the team lacks “a winning mentality”.

Then after their FA Cup semi-final triumph over Championship side Wigan Athletic at Wembley on Saturday, Aaron Ramsey insisted that winning the cup and finishing fourth in the Premier League would denote “one of the most successful years at Arsenal for many years”.

Having not won any major silverware since 2005, Arsenal appear to have lowered the bar of expectations. Moreover, having featured in the Champions League for 16 years in a row, perhaps they thought that they have a divine right to be in Europe’s premier club competition each and every season.

Complacency intertwined with modest ambition is now threatening to force Arsenal out of the top four. Last season the players celebrated finishing fourth as if they had won the league title, this time they might do the same if they pip Everton to the prized spot. That is what a club that once won the championship without losing a single match has been reduced to.

Recently an Arsenal team comprising of Mesut Ozil, Cazorla and Jack Wilshere were very much in the race for the Premier League title; now, they are behind an Everton side whose two key players are not even theirs (Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku are on loan). This is a wake-up call for everyone at Arsenal.

Whether they actually wake up or not is anybody’s guess.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch