Simon Jordan labelled Arsenal as the Premier League’s ‘bottlers’ during a tense talkSPORT discussion with Martin Keown.
The Gunners led the Premier League title race for most of last season but Man City lifted the trophy for the third consecutive year.
Poor form late on in the campaign proved to be the decisive factor for Arsenal, who sat eight points clear at the top at one point.
Mikel Arteta’s men host Liverpool on Sunday in a huge clash in this season’s title race, with the north Londoners five points behind the Reds who top the table.
Speaking ahead of the match, Arsenal legend Keown said his old club have the opportunity to close the gap with a win, but Jordan made a brutal claim about the Gunners’ standing against their rivals.
It proved to be a tense discussion between the two live on talkSPORT and you can read how it played out below…
Jordan: “It’s an interesting framing of the conversation because it’s the league leaders against the league’s bottlers, so what we’re trying to understand is if Arsenal can overcome that.
“If Liverpool do win this game, which I pick them to do, and I know the game in the FA Cup will be the blueprint for Arsenal, they were very dominant in the first-half and created lots of chances, but…”
Keown: “Do you think professional sportsman, we’re in an arena here with lots of boxers, do you think they bottle it?”
Jordan: “Yeah, of course they do.”
Keown: “I don’t think so, I don’t think so at all, I think they give their best.”
Jordan: “Giving your best and bottling it are not mutually exclusive.”
Keown: “We’re looking at Man City, they’ve got five trophies next to the pitch, Sheffield United could hardly get on the pitch there was so many trophies on the sideline, so we’re looking at a team that’s maybe a one in a million team, the era that we’re seeing right now…”
Jordan: “So when you’re top of the league and you’re in a run-in and your destiny is in your own hands and you start to lose games against sides that are nowhere near the quality of you, what would you categorise that as?
“I would say it was a psychological weakness that they didn’t overcome, the adversity of the opportunity to win the league. Man City won the league because Arsenal handed it back to them.”
Keown: “Man City went on an incredible run, you have to admit that but what they did at the end of the season as well, they put Arsenal to the sword.”
Jordan: “The games between Arsenal and Man City didn’t determine that outcome of the league.
“You saw the difference between the two sides because in the first game Man City were offensively better and the second game, defensively, Arsenal were poor at the Etihad because they had Rob Holding at centre-back.
“The point is, they didn’t lose the league because of the two games they lost against Man City, they lost the league because they went on a run of games against incidental sides, which is bottling it.”
Keown: “[William] Saliba wasn’t available and Arsenal suddenly were conceding lots more goals, the number of shot conversions… it was a different situation for Arsenal. What it demonstrates is the squad wasn’t strong enough…”
Jordan: “Mentally you were bottling it.”
Keown: “We may be in the same territory here because it’s a very thin squad that Arsenal have right now. [Thomas] Partey not available, [Jurrien] Timber not available, [Fabio] Vieira not available.
“Marquinhos by the way has come back from his loan period, the young Brazilian on the wing, and I expect him [Arteta] to use him. [Emile] Smith Rowe was given an opportunity in midweek and I hope he gets another one.”