As Luka Milivojevic stroked a firm low penalty past Emiliano Martinez to make it 3-0 on the night for Crystal Palace against Arsenal, Arsene Wenger cut a forlorn figure. Arsenal had fallen 7 points behind Manchester City in 4th (albeit with a game in hand). His team has done it for years despite mounting odds – but for once, Wenger might fall short of making the great escape yet again.
Where did it all go wrong for Arsenal? For the past few years, every season has started with boundless optimism. The summer signings inspire hope for the coming season and analysts explain to us why this latest signing had been the missing piece for Arsenal all along. Yet in the past five years, Arsenal has never really sustained a title challenge till the end of the season – 19, 16, 7, 12 and 10 are the point gaps that have separated the Gunners from the champions since 2011.
The results have simply not been good enough. Wenger needs to depart while his name will still be fondly remembered. It is a bit ambitious – but appointing a manager of the ilk of Diego Simeone may work wonders for a team like Arsenal.
Here are five reasons why a manager like Diego Simeone can win Arsenal the league title:
#1 They have potential
Let's hear it from the big guns themselves, shall we?
“Arsenal are technically and tactically the best team in the league. Nevertheless, they have not won that much, so you have to look for that improvement with that team,” Louis Van Gaal, October 2015.
“I think Arsenal has the squad to be champions. And every season I feel that. I tell you if one of their players is a free agent and they don't want him there, I get everyone. I like all of their players,” Jose Mourinho, September 2015.
It is widely acknowledged that Arsenal have one of the strongest and deepest squads in the Premier League in recent years. Perhaps a manager like Diego Simeone can galvanise all that potential and transform it into results – and deliver the elusive title after more than a decade.