Former Arsenal defender Justin Hoyte has suggested one match may have played a big part in the major decline of the club in the second half of the Arsene Wenger era.
The French tactician spent 22 years in charge of the Gunners, and remains a club legend after initially being such a success in north London, with three Premier League title wins, seven FA Cups, and of course the famous 2003/04 Invincibles campaign.
However, that 2004 title win was Arsenal’s last league victory under Wenger, with the club only really coming close again during the 2007/08 season, when they let a decent lead at the top of the table slip with some poor end-of-season form.
That all started with a 2-2 draw away to Birmingham City, with Hoyte recalling how traumatic that result was in an interview with Goal.
Arsenal lost Eduardo to a horror injury early on in that game, but were leading 2-1 in the dying stages before conceding a penalty and having to settle for a point.
This led to an infamous strop from former captain William Gallas at the end of the game, and Hoyte believes that one match was crucial in sending the team on a “downward spiral” afterwards.
“What happened that day knocked everyone for six really,” Hoyte told Goal. “It was so traumatic for everyone and we never really recovered from it.
“I really feel if we’d won the league that season it would have taken Arsenal to another level and kept that momentum the club had built up in terms of winning trophies and having a winning mentality.
“Football in England changed with that Southampton team of 2013-14, there is no other team that had as big an impact in changing the mindset” – Which manager said this? Click here to read more.
“I think it could have been a period of domination if we’d gone on and won that title. A lot of players wouldn’t have thought they had to go elsewhere to win the league and a lot more players would have wanted to join us as well.
“Winning that title would have given them the belief that they could achieve what they wanted to achieve at Arsenal.
“But what happened that season instead allowed some doubts to get into people’s minds and once that doubt starts, it’s a downward spiral really because you start getting negative thoughts rather than positive ones.”