Two reasons Arsenal can win the league
1. New found determination
Arsenal have not lost a Premier League game since their opening day defeat at home to Liverpool. The Gunners have blown teams apart (Chelsea and Hull) as well as getting lucky wins in the dying seconds of a game (Southampton and Burnley) which is something that Arsenal teams have been unable to do in the past. Wenger’s side have scored two or more goals in seven of their 10 Premier League games so far this season and are level on points with Man City and Liverpool at the top of the table.
Speaking at Arsenal’s annual general meeting, Arsene Wenger said: “I believe the team has the commitment, togetherness, hunger, desire and unity, and we have a good chance to compete for the Premier League. That is the target and I am absolutely committed to fulfilling it and giving my best so that we are successful until the end of the season.” I’ve heard Arsene Wenger make similar comments in recent years, but I really believe that he means it this time. Wenger clearly sees something in this group of players that has been missing in recent seasons and he has full confidence that they can genuinely challenge for the title. I hope he’s right.
2. Wide range of attacking options
Arsene Wenger’s decision to move Alexis Sanchez up front has been a revelation and revitalized the whole team. Alexis has been involved in nine goals in his past eight Premier League appearances with six goals and three assists. He continues to be one of Arsenal’s best players and his relentless spirit and energy make him a delight to watch. Then there is Mesut Ozil who is chipping in with goals in addition to providing assists. He scored the winner on his birthday against Swansea and got the third goal when Arsenal beat Chelsea. The sooner Arsenal sign Ozil and Sanchez up on long-term contracts, the better.
Theo Walcott has been fantastic so far this season, after failing to make it into England’s Euro 2016 squad. He has scored five Premier League goals this season, matching his final total in the three seasons before that and he looks dangerous every time he goes forward. Theo had a hunger and determination about him that has been missing in recent seasons and if he can keep it going, Arsenal will continue to reap the rewards of his new mentality. At 27 and after 10 years at Arsenal, this is Theo’s time to prove himself.
In six years as a Premier League player at Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored eight goals. He has scored once this season, meaning he is half-way to his best Premier League goal tally. Oxlade-Chamberlain has been frustrated with his lack of game time recently. His only start of the season before the Sunderland game was against Liverpool in the opening day defeat. The English midfielder scored twice as Arsenal beat Reading in the EFL Cup to set up a match with his former side Southampton and Wenger rewarded him with a start against Sunderland. Chamberlain put in a decent performance and provided a brilliant assist for Alexis’ first goal against the Black Cats.
The much maligned Olivier Giroud came off the bench against Sunderland when the game was at 1-1 and went on to score two goals with his first two touches. These were his first goals of the season for Arsenal and his brace completely turned the game around. All of his Arsenal appearances so far this season have been off the bench but Giroud is still a worthy and much needed member of the squad. When Arsenal were struggling against a poor Sunderland side, he came up with the goods to give the Gunners the win that their performance deserved.
Arsenal’s attacking options are seeming endless. They also have Cazorla, who was desperately missed against Middlesbrough, the talented youngster Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey who returned against Sunderland after a hamstring injury he sustained on the opening day of the season. If Arsenal can keep these players fit for the majority of the season, it would really help their title challenge.
Two reasons why Arsenal can’t win the league
Arsenal are always disseminated by injuries at some point during the season. Club captain Mertesacker has been injured since late July and is not due back until the first month of 2017. New striker Lucas Perez is currently out injured for six to eight weeks after an ankle injury sustained in the EFL Cup match against Reading. Danny Welbeck recovered for a nine month lay off only to suffer another long term injury a few months after his return. Welbeck is recovering well and even though he had been ruled out until February,Wenger confirmed he could play again before the end of the year. The issue with Arsenal is that their injuries are usually to key players. If Alexis or Walcott were to get injured now, it could completely unsettle the team. Players are not at fault for getting injured, but it always seems that Arsenal’s injuries occur when the team are performing well. Should Arsenal go on to win the league this season, a lack of injuries to key players will play a huge part in their triumph.
Last season Arsenal missed so many opportunities to go top of the league or get a victory when their rivals had dropped points. The goalless draw with Middlesbrough this season shows that Arsenal have not completely eradicated this from their game. The Gunners were lucky to get a point in all honesty. If Middlesbrough had been more composed in front of goal, they could easily have left the Emirates with all three points. When Arsenal drew with Middlesbrough, Tottenham and Man City drew as well. Had Arsenal been victorious over Middlesbrough, they would have been two points clear of Man City. This may not be too much of a big deal right now but if Arsenal fail to win games of this nature later on in the season, it could prove costly in the race for the title.
The last time Arsenal won the Premier League, I was eight so I hardly remember it. I would love them to be triumphant again but it is better not to get too carried away with Arsenal because they have a tendency to slip up. The Gunners are definitely title contenders but whether they can sustain a title challenge for the entire season remains to be seen. Here’s hoping.
Featured Image Credit: Julian Osley