Premier League • England

Arsenal told worrying reason why their title challenge will fizzle out, with Man City, Liverpool boasting key advantage

Man City manager Pep Guardiola, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool legend John Barnes has put forward a theory as to why Arsenal will crash and burn in the title race once again.

For the first time in many a year, the Premier League has produced a three-way title fight. Aston Villa and Tottenham will believe they can yet spring a surprise, though the commonly held belief is the race will come down to Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

The Gunners are aiming to go one better than last year after falling short despite leading the league for the vast bulk of the campaign.

Mikel Arteta’s side faltered in the final months, though five wins on the spin – including thumping Liverpool 3-1 – suggest lessons have been learned.

However, when speaking to Premier League Productions, Liverpool and England legend John Barnes explained why he can’t take Arsenal’s title credentials seriously.

As quoted by the Liverpool Echo, Barnes claimed that unlike Man City and Liverpool, Arsenal have to play well to pick up wins.

By contrast, Barnes believes City and Liverpool have proven they can eek out three points without producing their A game week after week.

Man City v Liverpool for the title – Barnes

“City are the favourites, I make Liverpool the second favourites,” said Barnes. “Arsenal were in a better position last year, but I’ve said since the Premier League started: March, April is when you really start to look at who the runners and riders are, because you have teams like Aston Villa and Tottenham who [looked like contenders] six weeks ago.

“When you’re coming into the end of February and March, it’s all about can you just get a result, and Man City are all-conquering, all dominant in that respect.

“Liverpool for me are the closest challengers because there are certain games where Liverpool haven’t played well but have got a result.

“Arsenal have to play well to win and if they don’t play well they may not win, and that is why as much as they’re doing well now, I still think it’s between Man City and Liverpool.”

Does Barnes have a point?

City’s draw with Chelsea on Saturday evening would appear to disprove Barnes’ theory. Indeed, amid a series of missed chances from Erling Haaland, City dropped points in a game they’ll feel they created more than enough chances to win.

Arsenal’s season did falter in December when suffering defeats to Aston Villa, West Ham and Fulham.

However, Arteta’s side have bounced back in style, returning an aggregate score of 21-2 in their five successive victories to start 2024 off in style.

What’s more, a key factor behind Arsenal’s tailspin late last year was the crippling injury absence of William Saliba.

If Arsenal can keep their top level stars fit and firing there’s no reason why they can’t lift their first league title since the Invincibles season in 2003/04.

DON’T MISS: Arsenal await Aston Villa, Newcastle approaches for midfielder who could be sacrificed in summer