Has Stoke defeat ended Arsenal's title ambitions?

By Avenell Dave

I made a stupid mistake at the weekend.

I logged into Twitter after the game to share the pain of what I said on Friday was, if not an inevitable defeat, then certainly a real banana skin at Stoke - as it proved.

The rants were predictable and I found myself getting drawn into a debate with a kid whose profile pic looks as if he is trying, somehow, to grow facial hair and too young to remember anything pre-Wenger.

His main anger was why Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain only came on towards the end of the game.

Arsene Wenger said before Sunderland that the Ox had picked up an injury against Bayern and after what happened to Theo Walcott earlier in the season, playing too much after an injury lay-off, you'd think our fans would realise that being cautious with young players rather than playing them into the ground might not be a bad thing.

But it wasn't the presence or absence of the Ox that led to our demise on Saturday.

There have been a few games lately where we haven't turned up or where we've struggled to get into the groove - and two wins in six is not title-winning form.

Is that because players are exhausted? Or is it because we didn't sign £100m worth of talent in the January transfer window?

It's hard after such a turgid defeat against a team who, despite their relative success against the bigger teams, have struggled this season, to see the positives.

Many of the naysayers were blaming Wenger, blaming each other, blaming the players for not caring and anything else that came within their vision.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Yes, mistakes have been made in the transfer window and we don't have the depth of squad to compete for the title, especially when we lose big players such as Walcott and Aaron Ramsey.

Some say that any team deprived of two of its key players would struggle, however deep their squad - but our league is so competitive and things change quickly.

We always knew that sustaining a title challenge would be difficult and although Wenger says we always finish strongly, I recall two or three years ago that we limped into fourth after struggling with form.

There's a very strong argument to forget about the Champions League now, especially with the FA Cup there for the taking (Everton and City remain the only major hurdles).

But let's remember that Liverpool were said to have propelled themselves into the title race by going level on points with us.

Yes, that's right, the same Liverpool who haven't won the title for 24 years. Imagine if we had ever gone that long (and for those of you too young to remember, in the 70s and 80s Liverpool were as dominant as Fergie's Manchester United).

Let's hope the players come back safe and well from pointless friendlies this week and that we can regroup and rediscover the form we had in the first three months of the season.

It's not beyond us. Keep the faith.