Arsenal not winning the Premier League would be a ‘disaster’, claims Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Manchester City have closed the gap to Arsenal just four points and have a game in hand on the league leaders

Harry Latham-Coyle
Monday 17 April 2023 09:37 BST
Roy Keane and Gary Neville clash over Arsenal's 'unbelievable season'

Roy Keane has said that Arsenal’s season will not be a success unless Mikel Arteta’s side hold on to top spot and win the Premier League, while Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has claimed it would be a “disaster” if the Gunners do not beat Manchester City to the title.

For the second game in succession, the league leaders let a lead slip, allowing West Ham to come from behind and secure a draw.

The dropped points dented Arsenal’s hopes of securing a first title for nearly 20 years, with Manchester City closing the gap to just four points.

Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand on Arsenal and face the London club in their next league fixture.

While Arteta has quickly transformed a side that finished outside of the Champions League places last year into real contenders, former Manchester United midfielder Keane believes Arsenal are at risk of squandering a successful season.

“It wouldn’t be an unbelievable season [if Arsenal don’t win the title],” Keane said on Sky Sports. “No chance. Second wouldn’t be a successful season.

“They’re out of all the cup competitions. If they don’t go on to win the league it’s a huge disappointment. Arsenal have no distractions. They looked tired at the end [at West Ham], they were hanging in there against Liverpool last week. That’s not a great message to say they’re up for the fight and they’re enjoying it. It’s obviously playing tricks in their heads.

“In the last week or two, Arsenal have lacked composure, particularly when they’ve got into winning positions. They could still go on to win it because they’re in a fantastic position if they can just keep their heads and have a bit of composure, but the question was if they were to finish second, it’s a disappointment for Arsenal.”

Hasselbaink added: “They were seven points clear. It would be a disaster, you’ve been leading the whole way. To give it away in the last three matches, it’s a disaster. If doesn’t matter if you’re not thinking to be No 1 at the beginning of the season, you’ve been No 1 for the whole way!

“We don’t know what is going to happen next year, everyone is going to get stronger. They might not be in this position again. It’s not a terrible season - but they would have given it away!”

Manchester City host Arsenal on Wednesday 26 April in a clash that could decide the destination of the title.

Before then, Arteta’s side welcome Southampton the Emirates Stadium hoping to distance the defending champions a little.

Of concern for the Spanish manager will be the manner in which his side let West Ham come back in to a game that the visitors looked to be dominating at the London Stadium.

Bukayo Saka’s missed penalty proved crucial as Jarrod Bowen’s volleyed finish secured the hosts a valuable point in their relegation fight.

While Keane is clear that second would be a disappointment, his former Manchester United teammate Gary Neville disagrees.

Neville explained: “If you said Arsenal would be challenging for the title at the start of the season, they would snap your hand off wouldn’t they? Arsenal finishing second would still be an unbelievable season. They’ve gone from fifth. They’ve got young players. I’m not saying they won’t be disappointed and heartbroken by it.

“What’s happening now was always going to come. They were going to lose their nerve, lose their energy and make mistakes.

“That was a wobble today, but you’re always going to have a wobble on the way to your first title. When Blackburn beat us for the first title in 1995, they had lots of wobbles on the way and they got over the line. And they stumbled over - and they might get there Arsenal, if they go that way.

“It’s not a disaster. If I was Manchester City’s players and I didn’t win the league with Erling Haaland up front scoring 50-odd goals, with Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez as well - I think that would be a disaster.”

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