It’s been eleven long years since Arsenal last claimed the Premier League title, however, after years of promise and then failure, the Gunners may just be ready to be top dogs once again.
The North Londoners currently sit fourth on the EPL table, three points behind leaders Manchester United after seven games.
They’ve already lost twice this season, on the opening day at home to West Ham and then two weeks ago against rivals Chelsea. However, these defeats don’t reflect how their season has gone so far.
You can put the defeat to West Ham down to just an off day or coming back to earth following a Community Shield win over Chelsea the previous week. The Hammers have also beaten both Liverpool and Manchester City away from home, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Against Chelsea a fortnight ago, I thought Arsenal were the better side despite losing 2-0. If it wasn’t for Diego Costa’s antics, they’ve could of come away with a win at Stamford Bridge. Gabriel’s red card was rightly overturned and Costa has been suspended for three games.
Other than that, Arsenal have recorded decent wins over Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Stoke and most recently Leicester City, a 5-2 win against a side that was previously undefeated.
The interesting point to come out of that game was the return of hit man Alexis Sanchez who bagged his first hat-trick in the Premier League. After being involved with Chile during the summer at the Copa America, it’s taken a few games for Alexis to regain his fitness. Now he is back, Arsenal fans will be hoping he can fire them to the top of the table.
Last season he was their top goal-scorer with 16, so to be in the top four without him being consistent is a sign of things to come. It is his second year in England, so he should be well settled and acclimatised to English football, so expect at least 20 goals from the South American during this campaign.
Coupled with the goals of Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, who can score one every now and then, Arsene Wenger’s side shouldn’t be short of goals this season.
It’s the defence and possibly the midfield which remains a concern for Arsenal. When the Gunners lost both Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for the game against Liverpool, the pairing of Gabriel and Callum Chambers struggled considerably.
Arsenal was lucky to escape that game with just a point, so keeping Koscielny and Mertesacker fit is vital to their defensive stocks this season, despite the latter’s occasional defensive blunder.
In Arsenal’s wins this season either one or the other is starting at centre-back, highlighting their reliance on those two defenders.
Defensive midfield is the other area for concern that Arsenal need to deal with. They have the impressive Francis Coquelin sitting in front of the back four at the moment, and his done a stellar job up until this point.
However, if Coquelin succumbs to injury, Arsenal is severely short of backup options in that area, with Flamini and Arteta past their prime. It’s definitely something Wenger needs to address in January as every title winning side needs a spine.
Coquelin may just be enough to get them there considering their only challenger I feel is Manchester City, but not having him there could prove disastrous for Arsenal unless they go out and find another defensive midfielder. They may be regretting the decision to not bring Cesc Fabregas back to the club last summer.
So looking at the contenders. You can rule out both Manchester United and Liverpool. Liverpool’s aim is to make the top four this season and a title run isn’t expected for the next year or two.
Although United sit atop at the moment, you feel they need another year of consolidating a position within the top four before having a tilt at the title. They still need a top class striker to compliment Wayne Rooney, and their defence is still in transition following the losses of Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra.
Chelsea is a tricky one though, no one expected that they would have such a poor start to the season and a 2-2 draw with Newcastle last weekend – a side that is winless – is very concerning, and the fact that they were trailing 2-0.
It’s incredibly difficult to win back-to-back titles. Only one team has achieved the feat in the last nine years – Manchester United’s treble in 07, 08 and 09. If there’s one man that can do it though, it’s Jose Mourinho who won back-to-back titles in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.
A poor start isn’t going to help their chances of going back-to-back.
The only one left is Manchester City and I see them as serious contenders for Arsenal. The signing of Nicolas Otamendi from Valenica in the summer is going to do wonders for their defence and having Mangala as a back-up isn’t bad either.
The question marks arises over Sergio Aguero and whether he can score enough goals. In their title winning season of 2013-14, Aguero scored 17 goals, but it was the combination with Yaya Toure – 20 goals and Edin Dzeko – 16 goals that took them to the title.
It’s unlikely that Toure is going to achieve that number of goals again and Dzeko has moved on to Roma, leaving City with just two recognised strikers in their first team.
Wilfried bony hasn’t hit the heights he did at Swansea City, so if Aguero goes down with injury as he commonly does, City are going to be in a huge amount of trouble. For me, whether City win the title or not comes down to whether Aguero can score 20 plus goals as he did last season.
Arsenal have the firepower and the talent to bring home their first title in eleven years, it’s now the challenge of coping with that pressure which they haven’t been able to do in the past few years.
Can Arsene Wenger add a Premier League title to his Emirates trophy room? I think he can, and it’ll be a great sight from a neutral point of view to see a new team holding the trophy aloft.