This weekend was significant in the title race for two top contenders in both the Bundesliga and Premier League.
Not that results at this early stage count for everything. With much of the season yet to be played out the notion that ‘anything can happen’ between now and May rings true.
But some results have lasting physiological impacts that can damage a team’s confidence or, more pertinently, show the leading contenders they have one less team to worry about come the final standings.
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Results nearly 400 miles apart covering two of Europe’s top Leagues bear reasons of why two unequivocally talented sides will never win their respective divisions unless they change.
Leverkusen and Arsenal - startling similarities
Arsenal, perennial underachievers since a 2003/04 Premier League title win, fell short once again at fellow challengers Chelsea.
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The scars of an inability to get the better of Chelsea in recent years were laid bare by Arsene Wenger’s post-match refusal to shake Jose Mourinho’s hand.
Chelsea have exerted total dominance over Arsenal in recent years and the nature of their victories condemns them to an irrefutable fact – they will not win the League playing that current brand of football.
The same can be surmised, therefore, of Bayer Leverkusen.
Die Werkself were thoroughly outplayed by Borussia Dortmund on Sunday afternoon, running out comprehensive 3-0 losers at Signal Iduna Park.
Leverkusen were under the pump for much of the 90 minutes, unable to carve out many clear-cut chances and were cast aside like Dortmund have to all comers in their Bundesliga fixtures to date.
One defeat is not exactly inexcusable, deplorable or incurable in any meaningful measure, but Roger Schmidt’s side were beaten down and made to look like a regular mid-table outfit as opposed to a potential title hopeful.
It cemented one home truth for Leverkusen – they are nowhere near ready to challenge for the Bundesliga crown.
Leverkusen lack enforcers and leaders
As has been blatantly obvious with Arsenal in recent years, Leverkusen are short of top-level experience and know-how in carving out results against esteemed opponents.
Captain Ömer Toprak is a notable exception, though he is out injured, while Dortmund raided the club for midfielder Gonzalo Castro in the summer; nearly 300 games worth of Bundesliga experience in the crucial midfield area.
In many ways, Leverkusen mirror Arsenal in personnel – an abundance of technically wonderful midfielders capable of picking apart any regular team that struggle to have an impact against quality outfits.
Javier Hernandez’s meek attempts to draw fouls from Sokratis epitomised Leverkusen’s physical inferiority against more seasoned opponents.
And when Wendell conceded a clumsy penalty from which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 3-0, teammates consoled the left back despite the foul ensuring there was no route back into the match.
Do serious title contenders act like this in big games?
Poor record in big Bundesliga games
Their record against the two dominant German sides is not favourable in recent years either.
Since their last title triumph in 2010/11, Leverkusen have beaten Dortmund just twice in nine games and fared a little better against Bayern Munich, winning thrice in nine outings.
Their most recent fixture at the Allianz Arena also ended in a resounding 3-0 defeat in which they battled but ultimately crumbled to better opposition.
Is Schmidt’s side one of the best in the Bundesliga? Yes. But they will not be winning the title anytime soon.
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