8 Key moments that cost Arsenal the 2023/24 title

By on June 7, 2024

Jurrien Timber Mikel Arteta Arsenal

The dust has now settled on another enthralling Premier League campaign. For the second season running, Arsenal were Manchester City’s main challengers. Unlike last season when we faded away during the closing games, this time around Arsenal pushed Pep Guardiola’s men all the way and took the title race to the final day of the season.

Arsenal did their job by edging out a stubborn Everton side 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium thanks to a late Kai Havertz goal. However, Man City beat West Ham 3-1 at the Etihad to retain the trophy and make it four Premier League title wins in a row. Arsenal finished on 89 points – just two behind champions City – and ended up with the same goal difference. We won a record 28 of our 38 games, and boasted the best defence in the division, so there are certainly positives to take from the season.

However, it was another painful end for Arsenal fans. To go so close without getting over the line, for the second season in a row, was a bitter pill to swallow. Now is the time to look back and identify where it went wrong last season to give Mikel Arteta and his staff areas to improve upon.

Here are some key moments that hampered Arsenal and ultimately cost us the Premier League title in 2023/24:

Timber Injury

Arsenal headed into the new campaign in positive mood, but we were dealt a major blow in just the first competitive game of the season. Summer signing Jurrien Timber had been signed from Ajax and he was earmarked as a potential solution to our left-back issues. The Dutchman had impressed in pre-season and put in an excellent performance against Man City in the Community Shield, so expectations were high.

Timber made an impressive start on his Premier League debut against Nottingham Forest. He was playing the ‘inverted full-back’ role to perfection, and seemed to be far more solid defensively than Oleksandr Zinchenko. However, sadly Timber’s debut was called short when he suffered a serious ACL injury early in the second half. The injury ruled him out for the vast majority of the season – only making his comeback with a late cameo against Everton on the final day.

If Timber had continued to showcase the type of form he produced during pre-season throughout the campaign, he would have been a major addition to the squad. I’d argue that he could have helped win an extra 2-6 points, as left-back was a real problem area for us in his absence.

Arsenal 2-2 Fulham

In just the third game of the season, Arsenal dropped two valuable points. After coming from behind to lead 10-man Fulham 2-1 with just minutes on the clock. We gifted them an 87th minute corner and a lapse in concentration allowed Palhinha to head home a shock equaliser for the Cottagers. For a team that boasted the best defence and the best record from set-pieces, it was poor from Arsenal to concede such a soft – and costly – goal. That goal alone cost us two points which would have been enough to win the title.

Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham

Just a few weeks later, Arsenal hosted Spurs in the North London Derby and once again a basic error cost us two points. Bukayo Saka had just given Arsenal the lead from the penalty spot shortly after half-time in a game that we were dominating. We should have gone on to comfortably win the game, but Jorginho – who had just come on to replace the injured Declan Rice – inexplicably gave possession to Spurs straight from the restart and Hueng-min Son race clear to make it 2-2. It was a big blow to Arsenal and we never got our rhythm back in the game so had to settle for a draw.

Newcastle 1-0 Arsenal

Arsenal suffered their first league defeat of the season in hugely controversial circumstances at St James’ Park in early November. Arsenal were the better side on the night but fell behind in the 64th minute when Antony Gordon scored from close range. However, Arsenal felt the goal should have been ruled out for at least two reasons. Firstly, the ball looked out of play when Joe Willock crossed in the lead up to the goal. Joelinton then clearly pushed Gabriel Magalhaes with both hands in the back as he attempted to clear the cross. Gordon also appeared to be offside as Joelinton got the final touch before the Newcastle winger fired it home. However, the VAR waived away Arsenal’s protests and the goal stood. An outrageous decision which cost us valuable points.

Arsenal 0-2 West Ham

This was one of the strangest games of the season as Arsenal totally dominated, created over 30 shots to West Ham’s 5, but somehow we left with no points. Fans with West Ham tickets couldn’t believe they left with three points, as the visitors were totally outplayed. The Hammers opening goal was also controversial, as much like the Newcastle goal weeks earlier, the ball appeared to be out of play when Jarrod Bowen crossed for Tomas Soucek to score. VAR didn’t have a clear view [same as Newcastle] so the goal stood. To be on the wrong end of one call like that is unlucky, but two is outrageous bad luck for Arsenal. It must be said that poor finishing, as well as poor luck, cost Arsenal in this game as we created more than enough to win the game.

Fulham 2-1 Arsenal

Just three days after losing to West Ham, Arsenal’s title hopes were dealt another huge blow after losing to Fulham. We took an early lead through Bukayo Saka but then stopped playing football and produced one of the worst 45 minutes of the season. Fulham took full advantage to turn the game around. It was a big opportunity missed by us as a win would have taken to the top of the table.

Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa

Arsenal squandered another golden opportunity to go top of the table when we lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa on April 14th. We played well in the first half and should have taken the lead when Leandro Trossard had the goal at his mercy from just 6 yards. Somehow Emi Martinez saved his goal-bound effort on the line and it proved to be the turning point in the game, and perhaps the title race. Villa took control in the second half as Arsenal tired having played Bayern Munich in the Champions League the previous mid-week. The Villains scored two late goals to consign us to a costly defeat that ultimately cost us the title.

Son miss vs City

Heading into the final week of the season, Arsenal were in the unfortunate situation of needing a favour from Tottenham when they hosted Man City in their penultimate game. Spurs played very well and certainly deserved something from the game. In true City style, they rode their luck and opened the scoring shortly after half-time. In the 88th minute, Tottenham had the perfect chance to equalise and hand Arsenal the title as Heung-min Son race clear. But the South Korean sent his shot at Ortega – on for the injured Ederson – and the miss gifted City a vital three points.