Gabriel and Perez spat is a worrying sign of pressure at Arsenal
COMMENT By Emma Sanders
Lucas Perez and Gabriel’s on-field bust-up following Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over West Brom highlights increasing pressures on Arsene Wenger’s side.
The Gunners are usually a good bet to finish in the top four, but Tottenham and Liverpool’s rise in recent seasons have made competition for a Champions League spot even more fierce.
It was a major blow to their title ambitions when they dropped points against Everton and Manchester City, while every other team in the top six picked up the maximum six points from two games.
It meant Arsenal dropped into fourth, behind Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
With Wenger’s contract drawing to an end and his impressive record of 17 successive seasons of Champions League qualification under pressure, it appears the stress is creeping into his players too.
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When Gabriel and Perez walked off the pitch, seemingly arguing at the end of the victory on Boxing Day, it was a sign of the pressures that are growing in London.
The victory at West Brom was desperately needed given their failure to pick up a single point in the previous two games, so after Olivier Giroud’s header went in on the 85th minute, Gabriel was desperate for Perez to pull his weight in defence.
Such frustration is uncharacteristic of Wenger’s players and though the manager shrugged it off as simple display of “South American temper,” it suggests deeper problems at Arsenal.
They know they simply have to keep winning to keep pace with London rivals Chelsea, who are in red-hot form at the moment, but more than ever they need to come together as a team, not pull apart.
The Gunners currently hold a four point lead over Tottenham but Spurs still have one game in hand left to play in 2016 and Liverpool could extend their lead over Arsenal by three points with victory against Stoke on Tuesday evening.
In other Arsenal news, Ian Wright delivered this verdict on the Gunners’ victory.