Jamie Carragher says Arsenal ‘blew it’ and need more depth to compete with Man City as Mikel Arteta apologises for falling short in title race

Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal will need to strengthen their squad considerably to go the full distance with Manchester City next season but fears they may not get a better chance.

The Gunners’ title bid ended with a limp 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s side were crowned Premier League champions for the fifth time in six years.

Arsenal were eight points clear of City earlier this season and topped the table for 248 days over the course of the campaign, but their challenge collapsed with a run of only two wins from eight games.

Carragher feels a lack of depth proved costly, with injuries robbing them of several key players, most notably William Saliba, while also meaning others could not be rested and rotated.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the clash between Nottingham Forest and Arsenal

“When you look at Arsenal’s first XI it’s not a million miles away from what we’ve seen from Man City, they play a similar style,” Carragher said on Sky Sports after the game at the City Ground.

“Aim [Bukayo] Saka has played every game and he played every game last season. Some of your top players can’t play all the time.

“Kevin De Bruyne doesn’t play every single game for Manchester City and for me he’s probably been the best player in the Premier League for the last four or five years.

“But the biggest disappointment will be the fact that the second half of the season it’s been a massive drop off. We can’t deny that.

“Arsenal had 50 points at the halfway stage. You know, going into any season, you have to get over 90 points to win a title right now because of Man City.

“Arsenal could end up with 84, so even though we say they’re unlucky, they’ve done all they can, it’s not a great total when we talk about really pushing someone to the line.

“Liverpool got in the mid-90s and still didn’t win the league. You’ve got to get 90-plus.

“They were on course for that, but it’s been a massive drop off in the second half of the season and one of the biggest reasons is they haven’t had the squad depth. They’ve got to bring more quality players in.”

Arsenal are expected to be busy in the summer transfer market, with West Ham’s Declan Rice among their targets, but Carragher feels their chances of getting into such a good position again next season are slim, even if they do strengthen sufficiently.

“I do have to go back and think how often will Arsenal be in a position where they’re eight points clear with 10 games to go. It was in an amazing position and they did blow it, we can’t deny it.

Martin Odegaard appears rejected.  It was the Arsenal captain's misplaced pass that led to Forest's opener
Martin Odegaard appears dejected during the defeat to Nottingham Forest

“They’ve had an amazing season but if they’re in that position next season I’d be very surprised, ahead of a quality of team like Man City.

“For me, Man City weren’t the real Man City for the first two thirds of the season it feels like since the international break they’ve got their act together and we’ve seen the real Man City we’ve seen for the last four or five years.

“Arsenal have been brilliant and what would the Premier League have been this season without them? They’ve given us a fight, a chase and unfortunately for them it’s petered out.”

Arteta: I take responsibility and I’m sorry

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Mikel Arteta congratulated Manchester City and admitted the pain is “intense” for his side after their title dream ended

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could not hide his pain after the game and accepted responsibility for the side falling short, issuing an apology for the way in which their title dream died.

“It’s a really sad day and there are a lot of difficult emotions,” he said in his press conference. “Obviously because we lost the game and we lost the championship after 10 and a half months fighting for it.

“I know that we have built an illusion, enthusiasm and belief that we could go all the way and win it, and we fell short.

“So, congratulations to Manchester City, they’re the champions and they deserve to be the champions. They’ve done it for 38 games and we haven’t been able to do that.

“That’s it, and from my side I apologise because we have generated belief that we could do it, and at the end the team wasn’t able to do it, and that is my responsibility.”

Gabriel Jesus shows his frustration
Gabriel Jesus shows his frustration during the loss at the City Ground

Asked where it began to go wrong for his side, Arteta pinpointed the late draw with Liverpool at Anfield where they surrendered a two-goal lead, and the subsequent 2-2 draw with West Ham, admitting their defensive struggles have proved costly.

“It started with what happened at Anfield in the 90th minute. We give it away and then you go to West Ham and you can make it 3-1 and that’s going to change it.

“We have conceded a lot of goals, we have given 16 goals away in those matches, it’s a lot, you know a lot, and you cannot sustain that.

“To win in this league, you have to be exceptional at everything, because there are no margins. That team doesn’t give you any margins and we have extended those margins too much and that’s how we lost the league.”