Arteta error v Aston Villa biggest of five moments that cost Arsenal the Premier League title

Jason Soutar
Costly Arsenal moments in the Premier League title race includes Newcastle 'desgracia'
Costly Arsenal moments in the Premier League title race includes Newcastle 'desgracia'

Arsenal were near-perfect in the run-in but missed out on the Premier League title after Manchester City dispatched of West Ham on the final day.

So, what happened? Why are Mikel Arteta and his players not Premier League champions? There are five moments we believe contributed towards their second-place finish and City winning their fourth title in a row. Here they are…

How Arsenal lost the Premier League title to Man City

Fulham Football Club
Arsenal’s record against the so-called ‘Big Six’ was outstanding this season, topping that particular table very convincingly. There were two occasions when a defeat in one of these fixtures looked possible; when Alejandro Garnacho scored a last-minute winner at the Emirates, and when the Gunners were trailing 2-0 away to Chelsea.

The former was disallowed for offside despite VAR using the “wrong angle” and Arsenal scored two injury-time goals to win 3-1. Against their London rivals, Arsenal fought back to draw 2-2; Leandro Trossard’s equaliser was one of many clutch goals scored by the little Belgian this season.

This imperious record has been admirable but it could all be for nothing because Arsenal dropped five points to the enigma that is Marco Silva’s Fulham.

During an experimental start to the season, Arteta put Thomas Partey at right-back, Benjamin White and William Saliba at centre-back, and Jakub Kiwior on the left against Fulham. With Aaron Ramsdale in goal, Andreas Pereira scored in the opening minute via a speculative effort from long range. Silva’s men were in front for 69 minutes, conceding two goals in as many minutes before going down to 10 men in the 83rd minute.

Ahead with a man advantage, Arsenal somehow drew thanks to an 87th-minute equaliser from Joao Palhinha. It was a baffling result courtesy of a disjointed Gunners performance.

In the return fixture, a blonde-tipped Bukayo Saka opened the scoring but Arsenal were absolutely pants, falling to a deserved 2-1 defeat. These two results proved both very costly and extremely irritating, especially when you consider Fulham’s record against Manchester City. They lost 4-0 at home and 5-1 away.


December slump
The aforementioned Fulham defeat away from home was the final fixture before the winter break. Arsenal took the time to visit Dubai and came back both tanned and ready for the run-in. They were rejuvenated and would start blowing teams away week in, week out.

While this is not strictly a ‘moment’, clubs can – in the vernacular of the last decade – be described as ‘being in a bad moment’ during a run of poor results and this is what happened with Arsenal in December. The month began with narrow wins over Wolves and Luton before a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa, a result that was not surprising given the Villans’ form, but complaints over a penalty not given and a disallowed goal left Arsenal fans feeling hard done by.

After getting back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Brighton, they picked up a very respectable 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, a match in which a bizarre decision went their way this time after Martin Odegaard decided to do a mix of breakdancing and basketball dribbling in his own box.

The Liverpool result was not a bad one at the time nor is it looking back, but it was part of a three-game winless run. A home loss to West Ham would follow on a very difficult night. Declan Rice giving away a penalty in front of the away fans was a major low for the £100million midfielder, whose blushes were saved by David Raya, who denied Said Benrahma to stop a poor result becoming an embarrassing one.

The Fulham defeat followed. If only the trip to Dubai had come sooner.


St James’ Park desgracia
Mikel Arteta was pure box office following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United in November. He was furious after Anthony Gordon’s winner was not disallowed for a foul from Joelinton on his Brazil team-mate Gabriel Magalhaes. Arteta branded the officiating “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”. It was a slight overreaction but his head was on Jupiter. Sometimes the red mist just takes over.

Arteta and Arsenal employed the best lawyers in the business to get him off with an FA charge on the count of the word ‘disgrace’ having a very similar spelling and pronunciation to ‘desgracia’, the Spanish word that has connotations of misfortune, tragedy or bad luck. Brilliant.

It looked like a foul because it was a foul, but Arteta’s reaction was completely unwarranted. There have been many worse decisions since the inception of VAR, even against his team. When the VAR audio came out it was revealed that they deemed Gabriel had overplayed Joelinton’s push, essentially screwing himself over by exaggerating the contact. He cried wolf and neither the referee nor the VAR bought it.

This is probably the least pivotal out of all five ‘moments’, but Arsenal have been so good this season that it was worth a mention. The ball was also possibly out of play. I guess all of this could have been avoided had David Raya claimed Joe Willock’s cross.

👉 The four players Arsenal need to win the Premier League title next year
👉 Arsenal officially the most televised team of the season; Manchester United 4th in TV table


Bread and butter misses
Here are two for the price of one. Don’t say we’re not good to you.

Sometimes a crucial miss will haunt you for months and that will be the case with Leandro Trossard’s against Aston Villa in the 2-0 defeat at the Emirates, Arsenal’s only defeat in 2024. Had he scored that, chances are the Gunners would have won the game. But there is also a strong chance they would not have, as we will cryptically tease and then explain.

The moment when Trossard aimed the ball at the only part of the goal Emi Martinez had covered left Arsenal fans speechless, as this is the sort of chance you would put your house on the Belgian putting away. His incredible run-in form means we can let him off.

Another miss that will haunt Arsenal fans was one from a Tottenham player. As the Gunners fans watched Spurs host City on matchday 37, time stood still as Heung-min Son ran in on goal in the 85th minute. A one-on-one is his bread and butter and nine times out of 10 it will end up in a goal, but his tame effort was saved by Stefan Ortega. If Arsenal fans disliked him before, they will bloody despise him now.

Had Son tucked away that opportunity and Spurs drawn the match, Arsenal would have been in the driving seat in the title race. On a very odd night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, many home fans were relieved to see their captain spurn such a golden chance.

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Should Arsenal not going for it at Man City be on this list? Join the debate here.


Mikel Arteta’s starting XI vs Aston Villa
Yes, Trossard fluffing the aforementioned sitter against Villa was a telling moment and had that gone in, Arsenal possibly would have won the match, leaving them unbeaten in 2024 had there been no butterfly effect. But it didn’t, and Arsenal were poor against Unai Emery’s men and ultimately fell to a 2-0 defeat which looks completely out of place sitting alongside all of those wins in the results column.

Arsenal slipped up once in the entire run-in, dropping points only in the 0-0 draw at Manchester City and the 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, where Arteta got his team selection wrong, something he very rarely does. His side have again exceeded expectations in another outstanding season but that does not make him immune to criticism. And in truth, this is the only thing he can be criticised for all season. This was the biggest of all five moments.

Arteta’s men were battering teams for fun with Kai Havertz up front and Declan Rice playing higher up the pitch thanks to Jorginho’s role as a No. 6. For some reason only he and his players know, the Spanish manager decided to shake things up, moving Rice back a position, Havertz in to midfield, Gabriel Jesus up front and Oleksandr Zinchenko back in at left-back despite the incredible defensive security that came with him out of the team.

After a decent first half showing, the Gunners were utterly dominated in the second and rightly lost. Zinchenko was not taken off until three minutes to go, Martin Odegaard came off with an apparent knock as Havertz stayed in the middle of the park, Jorginho was not introduced until the 79th minute, and when Takehiro Tomiyasu came on, it was for Benjamin White, not Zinchenko.

A strange day at the Emirates that makes me believe all of this is just a social experiment.

More: Five-year net spend tableWho is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? | Arsenal news