Another week, another Arsenal stumble.
Mikel Arteta has a job on his hands to keep his side’s title challenge on track.
It was a case of history repeating itself as the Premier League leaders let another two-goal lead slip away and dropped valuable points for the second week running. A 2-2 draw with West Ham on Sunday followed the same scoreline against Liverpool seven days earlier.
It’s an expensive habit to get into, especially at a time when wins are closing in on second-placed Manchester City.
While everything seems to be going so smoothly for defending champions City, who recorded a 10th straight win in all competitions by beating Leicester 3-1 on Saturday, Arsenal’s form is faltering.
As if back-to-back draws weren’t bad enough for Arteta, what will be of more concern is the nature of his side’s mini-disintegrations against Liverpool and West Ham.
On both occasions Arsenal cruised. But at the London Stadium, just like at Anfield, the Londoners fell apart when under pressure.
“My concern is that after 2-0 we made this big mistake and didn’t understand what the game required at that moment,” Arteta said. “We need that ruthless mentality to go and kill a team, and we didn’t do that today.”
Gabriel Jesus and captain Martin Odegaard looked set to fire Arsenal into a six-point lead over City when they both scored in the opening 10 minutes.
That was until Said Benrahma’s penalty in the 33rd set up a counter-attack and Jarrod Bowen equalized in the 54th.
In between, Bukayo Saka missed a penalty, which would have put Arsenal ahead, 3-1.
Even after dropping four points from two games, Arsenal are still four points ahead of City who have played a game more. But their lead over City was eight points less than a month ago.
City also have a better goal difference.
Arsenal play City at the Etihad Stadium in a crucial game on April 26 (3pm ET), and Arteta will have to hope recent results don’t dent his players’ confidence too much.
“We have to remember that we are still first in the league with everything in our hands,” said Odegaard.
Manchester United had a meltdown of their own against Sevilla in the Europa League when they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2, but there was no repeat at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag’s side, leading 1-0 through Antony’s 32nd-minute goal, piled the pressure on relegation-fighting Forest and sealed a 2-0 win through Diogo Dalot at the 76th
The win moved United into the race for Champions League qualification after defeats by rivals Newcastle and Tottenham on Saturday.
United moved up to third place, three points ahead of Newcastle.
While Antony scored one goal and provided the assist for another, the return of Christian Eriksen for his first start since injuring his ankle in January was a timely boost for Ten Hag as injuries mount for United.
Marcel Sabitzer was a late withdrawal after picking up an injury while warming up at the City Ground. The on-loan Austrian midfielder joins Lisandro Martinez, Raphaël Varane, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw on United’s list of key absentees.
“You see how quickly things can change,” Ten Hag said. “Last week we had nine defenders fit, today we had four. We need the numbers, we are one of the few teams in three competitions… We are in a lot of games, we need the numbers to stay in those competitions because we want bring a good team to the pitch every time.”
Eriksen only started due to Sabitzer’s injury, but he never seemed to break out with a classy performance in midfield.
“It’s nature, a natural talent, everything goes very well with him, so many skills, understanding of the game,” said Ten Hag, adding “when you bring Christian it’s not a disadvantage for your team, and he showed that” .
While West Ham grabbed a valuable point against Arsenal to move four points clear of the relegation zone, Hammers manager David Moyes said Saka’s penalty miss was a crucial moment in the game.
“Sometimes the fine lines are so small,” said Moyes. “They scored a penalty and at 3-1 it’s going to be difficult. We had a bit of luck, but then we grew, and I was quite pleased that we got a third.”
Meanwhile, Forest manager Steve Cooper was dismayed at his side’s failure to be awarded a shot when United’s Harry Maguire appeared to handle the ball with the game still at 0-0.
“I’m not going to say it’s the absolute reason we lost the game, but I think it’s a definite Maguire penalty and possibly a second yellow card and it could change the game,” Cooper said.
Forest remain in the bottom three with Cooper under increasing pressure.
Report from The Associated Press.
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