Rio Ferdinand jumps on Arsenal’s lack of leadership bandwagon with huge result singled out

·3-min read
Rio Ferdinand walking through Trafalgar Square Credit: Alamy
Rio Ferdinand walking through Trafalgar Square Credit: Alamy

Rio Ferdinand thinks Arsenal lost their way in the Premier League title race due to the lack of leaders in Mikel Arteta’s squad.

The Gunners’ quest for their first championship in 19 years all but ended last Sunday when they were beaten 3-0 at home by high-flying Brighton.

The difference at the top of the table is now four points with Arteta’s side to face Nottingham Forest and Wolves, while Manchester City have three top-flight fixtures remaining.

City can win their third title in a row this weekend if they beat Chelsea at home, but Pep Guardiola’s sole focus at this moment in time will be Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid.

Ferdinand experienced many title races during his time at Manchester United and reflected on his experiences on his Vibe with Five podcast.

“The first time I won the league right, we went and drew at Bolton away and the team we were chasing was Arsenal and they won that weekend,” the former centre-back said.

“I was sitting in the changing room thinking we’ve thrown it away man. I was down, shoulders slumped in my chair sitting there thinking what are we going to do man?

“And I went in the shower and I remember hearing Roy Keane and Gary Neville going ‘Ah, it’s a great point. What a point that is. It’s a hard place to come we’ll go next week and go again, this is a good point’.

“And my whole vibe changed, my body language, everything changed.”

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Ferdinand obviously found this perspective from Keane and Neville hugely beneficial and he does not think anyone in the current Arsenal team will have been able to calm everyone down after the dramatic 2-2 draw against Liverpool last month.

He continued: “Now was there anyone doing that (encouraging team-mates) in the changing room at Arsenal after the games against West Ham, Southampton, Liverpool?

“Was there anyone in that dressing room who went to that young team, young players, all those inexperienced players that haven’t been around titles.

“Was there someone going: ‘Listen, woah woah woah 2-2 at Anfield is a big result for us. Where have they been the last three or four years, what have they done?’

“This isn’t an idiot team they have won big trophies in recent years. So listen, come out of there with your head held high and go again.”

Many believe the draw at Anfield was the turning point in the title race.

The Gunners were 2-0 up in the first half but caved under Liverpool’s relentless pressure to drop two points.

That result was backed up with another 2-2 draw at West Ham with Arteta’s men once again throwing away a two-goal lead.

Arsenal then made it three without a win when they draw at home to Southampton. They were 3-1 down very late on and showed great character to draw, but the result and performance were massively concerning.

The title race might be over, but the Gunners have had a wonderful season and should look forward to playing in the Champions League next season.

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