Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes the Gunners must prove they have the spirit to maintain their title challenge after Saturday’s 5-1 defeat to Liverpool.
Arsenal were two points clear at the top of the Premier League before their capitulation at Anfield. The defeat saw Chelsea leapfrog the Gunners and take pole position in the race for domestic silverware.
Only six points separate the Blues and Brendan Rodgers’ team in fourth, with Arsenal and Manchester City sandwiched in between.
The Gunners’ thrashing on Merseyside has cast major doubts over their title-winning credentials, but Parlour thinks they can still lift the Premier League trophy for the first time since 2004 if they believe in their ability.
“They’ve have got to just keep believing. They’re a very good side if they can get their best 11 out,” the former England international told FourFourTwo.
“Everyone is expecting Man City and Chelsea to do the business, but I still think they have got every chance of going all the way.
“The Arsenal players have to believe they can win and think, ‘You know we are a very good team ourselves. If we can play to our ability we can get a result.’"
Parlour was part of the Arsenal team that pegged back a 12-point gap on reigning champions Manchester United to win the league in 1998.
During that title-winning season the Gunners had to recover from back-to-back home defeats against Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool.
Parlour also played for the Arsenal side that led the Premier League by eight points in March 2003, but collapsed and handed the title to the Red Devils.
With experience on both sides of the run-in, Parlour knows what psychological damage a poor run of form can do.
“If you lose a game you have to focus on the next one and win that,” Parlour explained. “If you lose two then confidence suddenly lowers in the dressing room. Players start to think, ‘Are we good enough?’.”
Before the weekend’s defeat, the Gunners were unbeaten in 10 games; their last loss coming in a 6-3 mauling at the Etihad Stadium.
Parlour is hopeful Arsenal can show similar resolve after the Anfield wreckage.
“We saw the way Arsenal responded to the City result. That’s what they have to do again after the loss to Liverpool,” he said.
“You can’t play well every week. Sometimes it’s all about getting results. What I have seen from Arsenal this year is when they play poorly they have managed to grind out a result. You’re going to suffer setbacks throughout a season – it’s how you respond that matters.”
Parlour, who won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during his 12 years at Arsenal, believes crunch time is still to come for the Gunners.
“People keep talking about this month, but March isn’t going to be easy. They’ve got Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Chelsea away from home and then Man City at the Emirates,” he said.
“Arsene Wenger will be hoping they still have a chance with six or seven games to go – that’s when the pressure kicks in, when every point is so important and when you need your players to really perform.”
Ray Parlour was talking to FourFourTwo at the Budweiser Open Trials, in association with BT Sport, helping decide which London based amateur footballers will have a dream opportunity to play in front of professional scouts at Wembley. Watch the first part of the Budweiser Open Trials on BT Sport on Saturday March 8, as part of its FA Cup coverage. Subscribe to YouTube.com/BudweiserUK to keep up with all the action.