Can Arsenal Exercise Composure And Win The League?
Mikel Arteta has led his Arsenal side to the summit of the Premier League table through 17 games and they currently sit five points ahead of Manchester City in second. However, with more than half the season to go, there is still plenty of time for things to change and the Gunners will need to keep their composure if they are to go on and claim their first title since their 2003/04 invincibles campaign under Arsène Wenger.
Below we take a look at whether Arsenal can go on to claim the trophy and see if they can fight off the likes of Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne at Man City. You can find the latest spread betting odds on the English top flight here.
Arsène Wenger’s Title Aspirations
Arsène Wenger suffered 14 successive seasons without winning the Premier League title before exiting the club in 2018. Arsenal have been desperate for the trophy since the 2003/04 season and have longed for the calibre similar to that of legends Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, to return to the ranks.
The closest the Gunners last got to winning the title was in 2016 when Leicester City were crowned champions. Arsenal finished in second place that year but the Foxes were always the team leading the pack. However, there was hope amongst the Arsenal fan base that Claudio Ranieri’s side would slip up. That would not be the case.
The 2007/08 season will also be a painful memory for Arsenal, having led the league for almost two thirds of the year. They only lost three games all season but a run of just one win in eight matches, beginning with Eduardo’s abhorrent leg break at the end of February against Birmingham City, saw them drop to third. They ended up finishing behind rivals Chelsea and Manchester United that year.
Arteta’s Tough Start
Arteta has been a polarising figure across not only the fan base, but also pundits since his time as Arsenal manager. After joining the Gunners midway through the 2019/20 season, he has guided the club to two eighth-place finishes and one fifth.
Last season, Arsenal saw a dramatic improvement and looked as though they would achieve a top four finish and return to Champions League football for the first time since the 2016/17 season under Wenger. They even sat in fourth up until the 36th round of fixtures.
However, crucial defeats away to North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United saw them slip to fifth and meant Spurs pipped them to the final Champions League spot.
Despite the vast developments within the Arsenal squad, they couldn’t get it over the line. Question marks were raised about whether Arteta was truly the man to take Arsenal forward, with Gary Neville citing a lack of experience as a key reason for Arsenal’s failure at the end of last season.
Fast forward seven months and things couldn’t look prettier for the Gunners. Arteta has led his side to the top of the pile, sitting in a comfortable position over City at the moment.
Arsenal have lost just once so far this term, dropping points in just three games and have accumulated 44 points. Even with City’s addition of Haaland, who has scored a majestic 21 goals in just 16 Premier League games so far this term, they have been unable to match up to the quality of Arsenal.
Pivotal additions in the form of Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira have added some much needed quality and depth to the squad. William Saliba is also playing in his first season under Arteta, despite being signed by the club in 2019, and has been immense at the back alongside partner Gabriel Magalhaes.
Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey have formed a solid pairing in the middle of midfield, with the former undertaking a new advanced role that has seen him flourish. Meanwhile, newly-appointed captain Martin Ødegaard has been incredible, not only displaying impressive work rate but an awe-inspiring technical ability, helping him make 12 goal contributions in the league so far.
Moving onto the formidable attacking line, Gabriel Martinelli and Buyako Saka have been ever-present in one of the most lethal offensive units in the country. Saka continues to be loved by the whole nation, not only performing at an elite standard for club but also showcasing his incredible talents for England at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Jesus was also in top form before his injury and was tasked with leading the line. However, replacement Eddie Nketiah has come in and hit the ground running, with the 23-year-old scoring four goals in four games in all competitions since the return of Premier League action. He will be a key figure in maintaining Arsenal’s lead at the top.
Can Arsenal go on to win it?
It’s easy to forget just how much of the season is left after the break for the winter World Cup but there are still 21 games to go.
Last term’s end of season collapse will still be in the minds of the Arsenal players and they will need to exercise more composure this time around if they are to go on and become champions.
Historically, this has also been an issue, especially in the past two decades. Wenger’s sides frequently displayed beautiful football with a sublime array of talent but they never had quite enough to go on and win the title.
However, Arteta seems to have worked on the toughness of his side, something which Wenger’s teams lacked. The squad has a tight bond, aggressiveness and seems to be dynamic in how they can win games.
Of course, the magnificent talent of Pep Guardiola and the City squad remains and many will still back the Citizens to retain the title. The depth of their squad also poses an advantage and there seems to be the consensus that Arsenal will run out of steam. Equally, an injury to either Xhaka or Partey will be detrimental.
There’s still time for Arsenal to make some acquisitions in the January transfer market and bolster their title ambitions. The return of Emile Smith Rowe will also be a big boost.
However, it remains to be seen whether Arteta can get one over his old mentor Pep and bring the Premier League trophy back to Arsenal for the first time in almost 20 years.