Arsenal caused more damage to their Premier League title hopes after a poor performance saw them lose 3-2 to Manchester United on Sunday (28 February). The Gunners have now fallen five points behind league leaders Leicester City and are also three points behind arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who are in second place with 11 games to go before the end of the campaign.
Ray Parlour, who won the double with the north London club in 2002, believes the team does not have the "grit and desire" necessary to win the title this season. The Gunners were the favourites to lift the title at the start of the year when they were top of the table. But their campaign has stalled and they have managed just two wins in their last seven Premier League games, which has put their hopes of winning the title in jeopardy.
The former midfielder leveled the criticism firmly at the feet of the senior players, who failed to show the necessary leadership to guide the team during what was clearly one of the worst performances of the season. The Red Devils are going through a massive injury crisis and were without a number of first-team stars and despite that the Gunners were unable to carve out a win.
Arsenal face Swansea City in a midweek Premier League clash before traveling to White Hart Lane on Saturday for a clash that could have a major bearing on both teams' title hopes. Spurs are one of the form teams at the moment, having won their last six league clashes. Parlour believes the Gunners' arch rivals are looking the stronger team at the moment and are the favourites to win the north London Derby on Saturday (5 March).
"I didn't see anyone on that pitch demanding more from the players. The big players didn't turn up and at the back they were all over the place," Parlour said, as quoted by the Mirror.
"The most important thing is the leaders. When the going gets tough you need people like that; when I played we had Tony Adams and guys like that demand more from you when you're up against it.
"Swansea on Wednesday is now a massive game for them and then they play the north London derby, and at the moment, Spurs are looking a much more complete team than Arsenal," the Gunners legend explained.
"It's undoubtedly a big blow to Arsenal because with the players United had out it was a real opportunity for them to set their stall out. They're going for the title and I didn't see the desire and the grit in their performance. I didn't see the togetherness that you've got to have at this stage of the season.
"They've got some massive away games coming up and this was a chance to make a massive statement at Manchester United. Now they've got to beat Swansea and Spurs and they are really up against it. If they play like they did against Manchester United there is no way they'll win the league," he added.