CAN ARSENAL REALLY WIN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?
Arsenal are currently one of the most in form team in the EPL. Winning all but one of their opening 7 games a run that included 5 straight wins. Of course that surely is a Premier League- winning form and rightfully so, people have actually started talking about Arsenal and putting them in the title race equation. After Arsene Wenger recently joined the growing list of people suggesting that we can actually challenge for the top honour this season, the Brentford manager did sound VERY convinced that Arsenal are title contenders.
‘They are top of the table so you cannot argue with that, they have done brilliant. Looking at the quality, they must be title contenders.’ Thomas Frank said after Arsenal defeated them 3:0 on Sunday.
“Arsenal won all the games they won fair and square and they were unlucky, I mean the game against Utd could’ve gone either way”. That sounds like a convinced EPL manager.
Now the question is, are we really title contenders?
Well, history suggests that it is actually possible for that to happen but it also screams how unlikely that is. The chances of Arsenal winning it this season are just as low as the bookies had Leicester winning it that historic year. It is historic for a reason, as it is highly unlikely that we get to see that happen again in our lifetime.
So whats the difference between this Arsenal and a possible title winning team?
Well our starting 11, on their day is up there with the very best in almost every position except maybe two positions as I will explain later down the article. What I mean by “on their day” is their inconsistencies. Teams like Liverpool, City have their starting players at an average of 25 to 27 years of age. This gives a balance of just enough experience and still the athleticism of a young vibrant team. That age group breeds consistency and professionalism.
Maturity is an important aspect of football, especially when you’re playing the big teams (City, Liverpools) or tougher teams away from home (Spurs, Utd Newcastle etc). Indeed this happened to be our undoing last season and so far this season. If our team is a couple of years older, we comfortably win that game against Utd at OT the other weekend but our inexperience again showed.
This can be bridged by adding a couple of “Jesus Zinchenko” type of signings in the next window and we’re one step closer to City.
Two: Strength in Quality at Key positions.
Our first 11 is as close as it can get to any top teams in the EPL, except in a couple of positions.
At goal, Ramsdale in a year or two will be up there with the best in business, our fullback options is top top quality. Our cental defence is where I feel we need an upgrade especially at left centre back position. Gabriel is a top EPL defender in so many aspects. He is tall, fast and athletic, a typical Premier league defender. but is a little prone to errors every other game. Every defender makes mistakes, thats true, but my feeling is that Gabriel is not as composed on ball as the likes of Saliba and White. He has an unnecessary aggression in his tackles as passes something that will cost us goals, cards, control and eventually points in big games. Something we can’t afford in the long run.
Granit Xhaka is another enigma in our starting 11. He is one of the most improved if not the most improved player under Mikel in his new position and gives us something unique. His defensive work as well as his growing perfect timing in his late runs in the option box is something not so many can offer. My issue however, watching him thrive in this new position has also showed me that if we had a faster with a quick feet and more clinical finisher in that position we would have surely scored more goals and win more matches with ease. I have seen him break away only for him to be caught up because of pace. Or another time where he finds himself in a wonderful scoring position only for him to blow it. If we could upgrade these two positions I really believe it will be a game changer.
Last but not least is Strength in depth.
Here is where we have improved lately but not quite there yet. This whole window we were linked with two positions up to the very last day of the window, a midfielder and a winger. We were looking at Tielemans, Douglas Luiz as well as other midfielders. We also looked at the likes of Raphinha, Mudryk and at some stage Sane as options for a winger and rightfully so. These are the positions we are in deed light in.
When Moh Elneny signed a 1 year extension, it gave us at least a year to look for a proper challenger to Partey or give Lokonga more time to grow into that position. So we were looking for a Xhaka competitor or an upgrade. But Thomas’s inability to stay fit as well as a weirdly long term injury to Moh, meant Arsenal needed to look for an alternative in Douglas in the last day of the window. Maybe we should get both him and Tielemans for free at the end of the season if we’re serious about competing with the best.
Saka is another key player that needs serious competition. If we can bring in someone to give us a different option in both right and left wing positions, we will probably be an even stronger force next season
Once these key areas are effectively improved, then maybe, just maybe we will finally have a real go at the EPL and possibly the Champions league in the next 2 years or so. But for this season, I believe top four and a trophy should be our target.
Thats all I had for today, looking forward to reading your thoughts in the coment section on anything you agree or disagree with me.