Manchester United host the Gunners on Monday evening, looking to book a Wembley FA Cup semi-final place, and Lee Dixon has told the London Evening Standard that Arsenal must overcome the mental weakness brought on by the Red Devils.
In the last 10 games that Arsene Wenger has led his team out at Old Trafford, Arsenal have lost an incredible nine times - drawing the other one - and have not managed to secure a victory there since 2006.
The rivalry was one of the major talking points of English football in the mid-2000s, but the rise of Chelsea and Manchester City has broken the duopoly, and made ties between Arsenal and United less meaningful in recent years.
It was 2006 when Arsenal properly ceased being main title contenders, with the Blues moving ahead of them as London’s big team. Since then, the Gunners have had a dreadful record against the teams that sit in the upper echelons of the league table, and it has been an inability to defeat so-called ‘giants’ that has prevented them from becoming true challengers for the league championship.
Tonight’s game at Old Trafford looks to be a great chance for Arsenal to end that record against the Red Devils, with Louis van Gaal’s side looking incredibly fragile. Despite winning game after game, United are hardly playing with style, and the Gunners may be able to transpose their good form into a positive result in Manchester.
However, this will only be possible if Arsenal overcome the big weakness they endure when they head to Old Trafford. For too long results have been against them, so they seem to start games in a state of negativity, almost as if they know they are going to lose.
Speaking to the Standard, former Arsenal great Lee Dixon believes it is this mental issue that the Gunners must overcome if they are to guarantee a first victory at Old Trafford in almost a decade.
“You have to put it down to what frame of mind they are in going into the game,” the club legend said. “And I would suggest that Arsenal’s record against the top teams over the last few years, and particularly at United, has been woeful.
“So you have to say something is not right. You can’t say they were unlucky in every game. They haven’t approached the games in the right way.
“It is not rocket science to work out if the problem is not ability-related, it’s a mental problem.”
Dixon addressed the complaints that the current Arsenal squad is weaker than the team he was part of, explaining that the mentality is the only part that is weaker.
He added: “A lot is talked about defenders not being as good as they used to be at Arsenal but I don’t think it is that. The mentality of the team is different and it is something that needs to be improved. The balance between attack and defence has not been quite right over the last few years for me.”