Arsenal analysis: How recent Premier League title challenges have always ended in the months of February and March

Manager Arsene Wenger rightfully called Stoke defeat 'a massive setback'

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger labelled Arsenal's 1-0 defeat at Stoke City on Saturday as a "massive setback" to their their title aspirations, leaving his side four points behind Chelsea in the race for the Premier League. Unfortunately for Wenger, recent history does suggest that it is always in the months of February and March that the Gunners' title challenge falters.

Since the club last won the Premier League in 2003/04, they have been in the top two on 1 February in three different seasons, but in none of those campaigns did they improve their position during those months, falling down the table in two.

In addition to Everton in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, a nightmare run of league fixtures await in the Premier League, starting with Tottenham Hotspur (away) on 16 February, followed by a sequence of Chelsea (away), Manchester City (home), and Everton (away).

Seasons since winning the title in which Arsenal have been in the top two on 1 February:

2013/14 (final position: ?)

Arsenal have won only two of their last six Premier League fixtures, including none in their three away from the Emirates.

League position on 1 Feb

1 Man City 53
2 Arsenal 52

Jon Walters (front) and Peter Crouch celebrate Stoke's 1-0 win

2010/11 (final position: 4)

While they did not lose any Premier League matches in the months, the club failed to gain any ground on Manchester United, dropping points in the memorable 4-4 draw at Newcastle on 5 February after they had  been 4-0 up after 26 minutes at St James' Park.

League position on 1 Feb

1 Man Utd 51
2 Arsenal 46

League position on 1 April

1 Man Utd 63
2 Arsenal 58

Captain Cesc Fabregas leaves the field after the 4-4 draw (GETTY)

2007/08 (final position: 3)

Following on from the 2-2 draw on 23 February, which included striker Eduardo's horrific leg break and then captain William Gallas kicking the advertising boards at the final whistle after the 2-0 lead was surrendered, the club went four Premier League matches without a win.

League position on 1 Feb

1 Man Utd 57
2 Arsenal 57

League position on 1 April

1 Man Utd 76
2 Chelsea 71
3 Arsenal 70

The players react after Martin Taylor's (left) tackle on Eduardo (GETTY)

2004/05 (final position: 2)

A 4-2 defeat by Manchester United at Highbury on 1 February started the period - the match fondly remembered for the clash between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira in the tunnel before kick-off.

League position on 1 Feb

1 Chelsea 61
2 Arsenal 51

League position on 1 April

1 Chelsea 77
2 Man Utd 66
3 Arsenal 64

Thierry Henry looks on during the defeat against Manchester United (GETTY)