Manchester United’s Antony celebrates after scoring the team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United at the City Ground on April 16, 2023 in Nottingham, England | Image Credit: Getty Images
Another week, another Arsenal stumble. Mikel Arteta has a job on his hands to keep his team’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 vital points for the second week in a row. A 2-2 draw with West Ham on Sunday followed the same scoreline against Liverpool seven days earlier.
It’s a costly habit to pick up, especially at a time when the wins are rolling in for second place Manchester City.
While it looked easy for defending champions City, who recorded a 10th successive victory in all competitions by beating Leicester 3-1 on Saturday, Arsenal’s form has been shaky.
As if back-to-back draws weren’t bad enough for Arteta, it’s the nature of his team’s mini-meltdowns against Liverpool and West Ham that will be more worrying.
At the same time Arsenal were sailing. But at the London Stadium, as at Anfield, the Londoners unravel when under pressure.
“My concern is that after 2-0 we made a big mistake and didn’t understand what the game required at that moment,” Arteta said. “We need that ruthless mentality to kill a team and today we haven’t been able to do it.”
Despite dropping four points from two games, Arsenal remain four points ahead of City with a game to play. But its lead over City is eight points less than a month ago.
The city also has a better goal difference.
Arsenal play City at the Etihad Stadium in a crucial game on April 26 and Arteta must hope that recent results don’t dent his players’ confidence too much.
“We have to remember that we are still top of the league that everything is in our own hands,” said Odegaard.
Man United are 3rd
Manchester United had their own collapse against Sevilla in the Europa League when they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2, but there was no repeat of that at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Leading 1-0 through Antony’s goal in the 32nd, Erik ten Hag’s side piled the pressure on relegation-fighting Forest and sealed a 2-0 win through Diogo Dalot in the 76th.
The victory saw United take advantage of the race for Champions League qualification after defeats for rivals Newcastle and Tottenham on Saturday.
United move up to third, three points ahead of Newcastle.
While Antony scored one goal and provided an assist for another, the return of Christian Eriksen for his first start since injuring his ankle in January was a timely boost for the Ten Hag as injuries mounted for United.
Marcel Sabitzer was a late withdrawal after sustaining an injury while warming up at the City Ground. The on-loan Austrian midfielder joins Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw on the list of key absentees for United.
“You see how quickly things can change,” Ten Hag said. “Last week we had nine top-fit defenders, today we have four. We need the numbers, we are one of the few teams in three competitions … We are in many games, we need the numbers to stay in those competitions because we want to bring a good team every time on the pitch.
Eriksen only started due to Sabitzer’s injury but he looks set to put in a classy performance in the center of midfield.
“It’s natural, a natural talent, everything will go well with him, so many skills, understanding of the game,” said Ten Hag, adding “when you bring Christian, it’s not a loss for your team and he proved it.”
As West Ham picked up a vital point against Arsenal to move four points clear of the relegation zone, Hammers manager David Moyes said Saka’s penalty miss was a key moment in the game.
“Sometimes the fine lines are very small,” Moyes said. “They got a penalty and at 3-1 it was going to be difficult. We had a bit of luck, but then we stepped up and I kind of like us to get third.”
Meanwhile, Forest manager Steve Cooper was frustrated at his team’s failure to concede a spot kick as United’s Harry Maguire appeared to handle the ball with the game still at 0-0.
“I wouldn’t say it was the absolute reason we lost the game, but I think it was a definite penalty from Maguire and possibly a second yellow card and could have been a game changer,” Cooper said.
Forest remain in the bottom three with Cooper under increasing pressure.