"People say they bottled it" – Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn on the Gunners' unlikely title tilt this season

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with defender Oleksandr Zinchenko.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nigel Winterburn believes it will not be a failure if Arsenal do not win the Premier League this season and has dismissed any suggestion of the squad being ‘bottlers.’

The Gunners legend was keen to highlight the immense progress made by the squad under Mikel Arteta and feels that Manchester City’s greater strength in depth could prove to be a decisive factor.

Speaking to FourFourTwo via Free Bets, he said, “No, I don't think it's a failure because maybe six weeks ago, they were favourites to win the league. They were favourites because of the way that they were playing, but have unfortunately, had the most dominant team of the last five years in Manchester City chasing them down. 

“For me, I only have to look back at last season where there was a disastrous start, sticky middle and pathetic finish. We are miles away from any of that.”

Winterburn says that the season cannot be defined by Arsenal’s current patchy form and spoke about the joy which this squad of players has brought to the fans.

“We've had a little sticky period, and we are not strong enough at the moment in terms of coping with key injuries. 

“Wherever we finish, it won't be a disappointment because of the sheer quality that this team have brought to the Premier League and to the supporters.

“If you look at the atmosphere inside the Emirates, it's the best it has been by a long, long way. 

“A lot of people say they bottled it, but you have to accept that if you've got a team of Manchester City's quality hunting you down, you've got to be almost perfect through to the end of the season.”

The loss of William Saliba has been a key factor to Arsenal’s stuttering form in recent weeks, but Winterburn stressed the importance of ending the season strongly.

“You only have to look at the numbers since Saliba has gone out of the team, which do not make for good reading. On top of that, I think we've one or two players who have had a little dip in the same period of time. 

“Also, psychologically, the West Ham and Southampton games would have affected the players a lot, mentally.

“It would be a disappointment for me if this season peters out. This team has got more ability than that and more about them.

“I see where the team has progressed from last season. And there's no doubt in my mind that Arsenal will re-strengthen again, significantly in the summer.”

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