Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has come under fire for making a “crucial mistake” that Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson would never have made in the Premier League title race, according to BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton.
The criticism comes after Arsenal dropped crucial points in recent weeks, including blowing a 2-0 lead against Liverpool at Anfield and drawing 2-2 against West Ham at the London Stadium, despite taking a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes.
Despite these setbacks, Arsenal still lead Manchester City in a tight title race, holding a four-point lead at the top of the table, although Pep Guardiola’s men have a match in hand.
Sutton took issue with Arteta’s comments after the West Ham match, where he suggested that Arsenal looked “too comfortable” after Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard scored, saying that Arteta should have taken a page out of Ferguson’s playbook and deflected the damage away from Arsenal.
“Arsenal’s players will have felt sick going into the dressing room at London Stadium at full-time last Sunday, and dropping points like that is a very different feeling to when you draw after trailing 2-0,” Sutton told BBC Sport.
“I don’t think Gunners boss Mikel Arteta got it right when he said afterwards that his side looked ‘too comfortable’ when they went ahead early on against the Hammers. He might just have been emotional at the result, but he seemed to be questioning his players’ mentality, and I don’t think we ever saw Sir Alex Ferguson doing that at United — he would have blamed the referee, or anything, instead.”
Sutton went on to say that the pressure might be getting to Mikel Arteta and that his side needs to start dominating games again, starting with their upcoming match against Southampton before traveling to face Manchester City.
“Arsenal go to Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, so this is an absolutely must-win game for them to get back on track. It would be unthinkable for them to drop points against the bottom side — if they do, I think the title has definitely gone,” Sutton added.
He also noted that Southampton, who Arsenal will face on Saturday, are in a must-win situation themselves and cannot be happy with a point against any opponent, but he still does not see them getting anything at Emirates Stadium.
The pressure is mounting on Arteta and Arsenal as the title race enters its final stretch, and they will need to start winning games convincingly if they hope to hold on to their lead and claim their first Premier League title since 2004.