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The numbers behind Arsenal's good start

Five Aside
ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Thierry Henry, Ian Wright question Arsenal hopes after Man United loss

Arsenal legends Thierry Henry and Ian Wright questioned whether Arsene Wenger's side have the mental strength to be champions after Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.

The Gunners had the chance to move back within two points of leaders Leicester City when they faced an injury-hit United side at Old Trafford, but they were unable to recover from 18-year-old Marcus Rashford's early brace on his Premier League debut.

Henry, part of the last Arsenal side to win the title in 2003-04, said in his role as a Sky Sports pundit that their display had raised serious questions as to whether they have the necessary belief to be crowned champions of England.

"That wasn't the performance of a team who wants to be champions," said Henry, who has been working with Arsenal's youth team as he develops his coaching skills.

"As an Arsenal fan, I'm thinking, 'Can you show me you can be champions?' -- and today they didn't reassure me on anything. They were second-best in everything. It was a really poor performance.

"Don't take away anything from Marcus Rashford or Man United today, but Arsenal had to do more than that. I wanted Arsenal to come here and win well to send a message. You need to learn how to win games when you're not at the top of your game.

"They're still in the title race, but as an Arsenal fan, how are you going to feel confident going to Tottenham, to Everton, to West Ham?"

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Wright, who was part of Wenger's title-winning squad in 1997-98, said he believed either Leicester or Tottenham -- now three points clear of the Gunners -- were heavy favourites after Sunday's games.

"Arsenal's defeat at Manchester United was especially disappointing because it showed they do not have the mental strength to deal with being where they are at in the title race," BBC pundit Wright said.

"Gunners fans know they have a fantastic opportunity to win the Premier League this season, but the team does not seem to understand the enormity of their situation, and what it requires.

"There are still 11 games to go but, as things stand, I do not watch them and see a team that has what it takes to win the title.

"I don't know who is going to win it out of Leicester and Tottenham, but I do believe it is between those two now."

He added: "I was in the 'Match of the Day 2' production office watching both of Sunday's Premier League games and I saw the way Spurs celebrated their victory.

"On paper you might think beating Swansea 2-1 at home is no big deal but their fans knew how important it was, especially with their team coming back from 1-0 down.

"When you win the title, you look back at the whole season and it is days like this that make the difference. If Spurs do end up as champions, then this was huge win for them because it keeps the pressure on Leicester, and also helps them build the belief they need.

"For Arsenal, it is the opposite after this weekend -- they are already doing what they always seem to do if they are in contention at this stage, which is fall away, and the pressure on them is only going to build from here."

David Platt, another member of the 1997-98 title-winning squad, was also critical of Arsenal.

"With a performance like that, they don't fill you with any confidence that they can go away from home and go and get a result," former England midfielder Platt said on Sky Sports.

"Form is one thing; I think what we're levelling at them here is a lack of willing, an acceptance that you've got to put in a workmanlike, industrious performance. It's going to be a real tall order for Arsenal."


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