Arsenal's title dreams are over as Henry reopens Suarez saga
Was Liverpool owner rubbing salt in the wound with comments about Arsenal's transfer woes?
ARSENAL midfielder Jack Wilshere has insisted that Arsenal are not out of the title race despite slipping to third place after an anaemic defeat to Stoke City on Saturday.
But although he is convinced that the Gunners are still in with a shout, not everyone agrees. Even his manager Arsene Wenger described Saturday's result as a "massive setback" and plenty of other commenters are lining up to write off the chances of Arsenal winning a first title since 2004.
The writing is on the wall for Arsenal, says Sean Ingle in The Guardian. "Their next Premier League defeat is likely to be a death blow for their title hopes. If fatalism has a scent, Arsenal supporters wear it like eau de toilette," he says.
He also suggests that next defeat might not be far off. "The title is still up for grabs but their next league games loom like Himalayan peaks: Spurs away, Chelsea away, Manchester City home, Everton away."
Whatever Wilshere says about beating the best teams in the division, Arsenal will now look ahead with "dread" claims the Daily Mail, and it adds that Wenger's comments after the Stoke match "had the ring of an obituary".
The manner of the defeat was as worrying as the result, says The Independent. "A four-point deficit to the leaders is not overly dramatic but there was little in the leaden feet of Arsenal to suggest they might chase it down in the final ten games of the season."
One of the two teams above Arsenal is Liverpool, ahead on goal difference, and owner John W Henry has rubbed salt into Arsenal's wounds by reopening last summer's Luis Suarez transfer saga. Henry has now confirmed that the player did have a £40m buy-out clause in his contract, but explained that when Arsenal made their infamous £40m plus £1 offer to buy the player, the Reds simply decided not to sell.
"Contracts don't seem to mean a lot in England," he told a conference in America. "[And] since apparently these contracts don't seem to hold, we took the position that we're just not selling. "
Why he brought the subject up is unclear says The Times, but the timing is uncanny. "The American is as aware as anyone of the attention that the mere mention of Suarez's name creates in England and beyond, so the suggestion that this may have been a bit of bravado aimed at demonstrating both his own power and reminding people of the strength that Liverpool showed at Arsenal's expense."