Is Rodri right to question Arsenal's 'mentality' after Man City title win?

  • Rodri believes Man City's "mentality" got them over the line in title race
  • Midfielder questioned Arsenal for playing for a point at the Etihad
  • Arsenal won 16 of final 18 Premier League games
Rodri slandered Arsenal for playing for a draw at the Etihad
Rodri slandered Arsenal for playing for a draw at the Etihad / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Arsenal have gotten a lot of stick since Manchester City were confirmed as Premier League champions for the fourth-straight season.

Such slander has to be expected. You give it out, you've got to take it. Opposing fans have little time for context or what you might call 'the big picture', especially those that dabble in the big bad world of social media. Engagement over rationality, and all that.

There were the Newcastle fans on the underground singing: "You lost the league at St. James' Park...", Tottenham supporters ironically revelling in the Gunners' supposed 'bottling', Everton's away contingent spreading murmurs of a West Ham equaliser, and many, many more. What did we do to hurt you, Bayer Leverkusen?! We see you tweeting - or is it 'X-ing'? - pictures of Granit Xhaka with the Meisterschale just minutes after City's title was confirmed. That was low.

All in all, it was a bloody good day for some Gooner mickey taking.

The idea of this Arsenal team winning the Premier League is one that can't be stomached by so many. Manchester City's unrelenting success means even their bitterest rivals have grown numb to their brilliance. Just mention the 115 charges and you'll feel a little bit better about yourself.

Man City star Rodri believes superior "mentality" helped his side over the line in title race

Anyway, back to the point. While the Cityzens, having secured a 3-1 victory over the Hammers on the final day, enjoyed an unprecedented title triumph, Rodri thought he'd take a swipe at his side's closest contenders for their seemingly perpetual crown.

Speaking to Optus' Mark Schwarzer on the Etihad pitch post-match, the exceptional midfielder questioned Arsenal's mentality during the title race, pointing towards their head-to-head stalemate at the end of March as an example for why City eventually got over the line.

Rodri was asked by Schwarzer about his team's sustained success, to which he replied: "To be honest, I think it's in here," pointing to his head. "It's the mentality.

"Arsenal, also they deserve [to win the league], they did an unbelievable season, but I think the difference was in here [pointing to his head again].

"When they came here, they faced us at the Etihad, I saw them and said: 'Ah, these guys, they don't want to beat us, they just want a draw.' And that mentality, I don't think we would do it the same way.

"And we caught them. At the end, if you give us one point, we will win the last seven, eight games even though it's so tough. So I think it comes down to mentality," the Spaniard concluded.

Where Rodri was right and wrong

Martin Odegaard, Rodri - Soccer Player - Born 1996
Rodri in action against the Gunners in March / Visionhaus/GettyImages

I'll go as far as saying I agree with Rodri... to an extent.

The point at the Etihad was a good result which ensured we controlled our own destiny at the summit in the aftermath, but I said at the time that it was a missed opportunity and I stand by that. A more cautious game plan deployed by Mikel Arteta saw Arsenal cede control and territory which meant the visitors played on the break for much of it. The Gunners changed tack and were content with their point, but the absence of an elite transitional threat meant victory was always unlikely.

The acquisition of such a profile this summer is necessary for the final stage of Arsenal's evolution under Arteta.

However, on the whole, Rodri's suggestion that Arsenal's "mentality" cost them the league title is misguided. The Gunners rattled off 16 wins from 18 to conclude the season, finished unbeaten against the 'Big Six', beat Liverpool and City at home, claimed victories at Tottenham and Manchester United in the final few weeks to pile the pressure on their rivals, and only once did they buckle after that draw against City.

The stalemate at the Etihad was a missed opportunity to perhaps destabilise Pep Guardiola's Cityzens, a 2-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa was where the Premier League title was lost. And sometimes, good Premier League teams beat very good ones. It was an off day. Villa were superb. It happens.

The Gunners aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Not with this manager and group of players, but as long as that Catalonian genius remains in Manchester, Arsenal are going to have to scale peaks they've never ascended, as they did in 2023/24 (and it still wasn't enough!), to win a maiden Premier League title in over 20 years.

Their maturation under Arteta has seen them develop a champion's mentality, no matter what Rodri thinks.

"Don't be satisfied." I can't wait for 2024/25 already!