The key moments that lost Arsenal the Premier League title

By on June 14, 2023

Mikel Arteta Arsenal

The 2022/23 season was certainly one to remember for Arsenal fans. However, a shock title charge ultimately ended in disappointment as Manchester City clinched their fifth title in six years. Let’s take a look back at some of the key points in the season to see where Arsenal’s title tilt derailed.

Surprise pace-setter

Heading into the 202s/23 season, the vast majority of pundits, and fans to be fair, expected Arsenal to be battling just to finish in the top four again. We lost out to Tottenham the previous year to finish fifth, and most thought fourth was the best we could realistically hope for. The signings of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and the return of William Saliba from loan added some much needed quality to Mikel Arteta’s squad, but Arsenal were still not thought to be serious title contenders.

However, a stunning start to the season saw Arsenal sit top of the Premier League table after a few games and we established ourselves as the early pace-setters. We played some wonderful football with Jesus making an immediate impact in attack, while Saliba had forced his way into the starting eleven with some assured displays alongside Gabriel in the middle of defence.

The team was well balanced and Arsenal fully deserved to be top at Christmas following a superb first half to the season. There was a little dip in form in February but Arsenal remained top and held a five point lead with 12 games remaining. Getting hold of Arsenal tickets was almost impossible as fans were desperate to see the team playing with such confidence and quality again. Optimistic supporters started to buy tickets for the final home game of the season against Wolves for thousands of pounds, anticipating this could be the day we were crowned champions.

However, things started to unravel in April….

Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Hot off the back of Man City’s win over Liverpool, Arsenal went to Anfield needing a result. We came flying out the blocks to take a deserved 2-goal lead and with the Anfield crowd silenced, it looked as though Arsenal were going to go on to secure a huge win over Liverpool that would have cemented our lead over City. However, a needless bust-up between Granit Xhaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold just before half-time set the game alight. The home support were suddenly ferocious again and Liverpool pulled a crucial goal back just before the break.

They were a different team in the second half and Arsenal’s swagger had disappeared. Liverpool pummelled us, pushed on by their passionate support – who were sitting in silence before Xhaka’s row with Trent. Roberto Firmino scored his customary goal against Arsenal in the 88th minute to break Arsenal’s hearts and we had Aaron Ramsdale to thank for salvaging a point in the end as he made two stunning saves in injury time.

West Ham 2-2 Arsenal

A 2-2 draw at Liverpool was disappointing given Arsenal held a two-goal lead, but it wasn’t a disaster as long as we responded with a win over West Ham four days later. Arsenal looked to have put the Anfield collapse behind them as we raced into another 2-goal lead thanks to early goals from Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard. Arsenal were in total control and en course to secure a vital three points.

However, we once again hit the self destruct button. Thomas Partey’s carelessly lost possession on the edge of his own area and it resulted in a West Ham penalty that was duly dispatched by Said Benrahma in the 33rd minute. Replays showed Declan Rice handled the ball as he stole possession from Partey, but the referees allowed the goal to stand and it was game-on.

The London Stadium, much like at Anfield just a few days prior, tasted blood and they spurred the Hammers on in the second half. Arsenal clearly still had the Liverpool game on their minds but we still had a golden opportunity to restore our two-goal lead after being awarded a penalty shortly after half-time. However, Bukayo Saka sent the spot kick wide of the post and West Ham went straight up the other end to make it 2-2 through Jarrod Bowen. Arteta later admitted that this few minutes may have been the major turning point in our title race.

Had Saka have put Arsenal 3-1 ahead, we would almost certainly have gone on to win the game and retain a healthy lead over Man City. It was a huge week in the title race as Arsenal had blown a two-goal lead twice in succession to drop four vital points.

Arsenal 3-3 Southampton

After two disappointing results, what better way to get back on track than a convincing home win over the Premier League’s bottom club, Southampton? It was meant to be a routine victory for Arsenal, but it turned into another nightmare. Aaron Ramsdale gifted the visitors the lead in just the first minute after a poor pass out from the back. Theo Walcott then came back to haunt his former club by giving the Saints a shock 2-0 lead inside the opening 15 minutes.

Arsenal pulled one back through Gabriel Martinelli but Southampton restored their two-goal lead midway through the second half. That killed Arsenal’s momentum and we struggled to get back into the game. It wasn’t until the 88th minute that we sprung into life as Odegaard fired home for 2-2 before Saka made it 3-3 just two minutes later. However, Arsenal couldn’t find a winner in injury time and had to settle for a hugely disappointing home draw against the worse team in the league.

Man City 4-1 Arsenal

After drawing our previous three games, Arsenal went to the Etihad in horrible form and were easily beaten by Man City in the ‘title decider’. City outclassed us and I think the players knew the league was all-but over after taking just three points from the games against Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton. It wasn’t just the results, it was the manner in which we dropped those points that really hurt.

This disastrous four-game run in April is where Arsenal lost the Premier League last season. Yes, the defeats to Brighton and Forest were the final nails in the coffin, but any realistic hopes of beating City were over after taking just three points from those four games in April.

Many will rightly point out that the injury to William Saliba just two weeks before the trip to Liverpool was also a huge contributing factor to our end of season collapse. Our defence went from being rock solid, to conceding 11 goals in four games. Saliba was a huge miss, and Rob Holding just wasn’t up to the required standard needed to win titles. Who knows how things would have played out if Saliba stayed fit. My guess is we’d have pushed Man City far closer and I wouldn’t have been surprised if we would have gone all the way.

However, after being top for 248 days last season, Arsenal certainly have lots to build upon heading into next season. Hopefully we can go one better in 2023/24.