GRAEME SOUNESS has backed Manchester City to win the title ahead of Arsenal, because of Mikel Arteta’s hothead personality.
Writing in his Daily Mail column, Souness analysed how Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Man City was the climax of “nervy” performances across the previous month.
Liverpool legend Souness explained how serial winners such as City, or his former Liverpool side of the late 1970s, would brush off defeat knowing it would have little consequence for them in the grand scheme of things.
However, he believes Arsenal have suffered as a result of Arteta’s “wild” antics on the touchline.
Souness wrote: “Arsenal have looked a very nervy bunch for a whole month now – and in part that stems from Mikel Arteta and his antics on the touchline.
“The wild celebrations. The falling out with rival managers. The conduct towards officials.
“All of this will have had an impact on his players, both live and when they’ve seen it played back.
“Arteta has gone overboard because this is all new to him. As a player, he bordered on being son-in-law material – you wouldn’t be unhappy if you walked through the door with your daughter – and I can never remember him aggressively going after anyone.
“Yet he’s now turning up on a match-day with an angry head on. I don’t believe this is helping the cause.”
Arsenal are now winless in three league games, having been defeated at Everton and held to a draw by Brentford – though Lee Mason, who made an error on VAR in the game, has now left PGMOL – prior to the City defeat.
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Souness added: “The reaction has to come from the players.
“We’ve been hearing all season that Arsenal have a really strong dressing room, full of winners and big personalities.
“Well, we’re about to find out if that’s true. It’s like coming off a horse and being kicked as you do so: you have to stand straight up and get right back on.
“It’s time for the big men in that dressing room to stand up. I really do hope Arteta can find some who are capable of that.”
The Gunners next test comes against Aston Villa, where former Arsenal boss Unai Emery may be hoping to get a dose of revenge against the man who replaced him in the Arsenal dugout.
A win or draw will see the North Londoners return to the top of the table, while a defeat will open the door for City to move three clear – though Arsenal will still have a game in hand.
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has also demanded his side be within striking distance come April.
The Red Devils sit five points behind Man City and Arsenal, but remain competitive on four fronts, with an upcoming Carabao Cup final just days after a Europa League second-leg against Barcelona.