Contrary to expectations, Arsenal are atop of the premier league table after a string of 5 straight wins both at home and on the road. Though it’s still early days, hopes are rising at the Emirates that Arsenal can actually win the Premier League. This is in sharp contrast to what pundits have said. While Micheal Owen foolishly declared Arsenal aren’t a top 4 team, Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn wasn’t committal on the Gunners’ chance of landing the title. He said it is still early days and declared Arsenal will be taken seriously if they are still in the mix for the title in January.
I agree with him it’s still too early but believe Arsenal will still be in the mix for the title come the new year. The Gunners are grinding out results despite having core members of the first team out. This is really surprising. The argument that Arsenal are yet to play the top teams will be punctured by the simple fact that the Gunners have safely negotiated some tricky ties like the one against Fulham at Craven Cottage, the away win at Swansea and the win over Tottenham. The upsets this season have proven that there are no minnows in the EPl.
Southampton beat Liverpool at Anfield, West Brom did the same to Manchester United at Old Trafford while Villa shocked City at Villa Park. If those seemingly teams could wreck such havoc, Arsenal’s victories over Stoke, Sunderland and Fulham shouldn’t be trivialized. The fact that Arsenal even did that with stretched squad owing to injuries means they have a good enough squad to last the whole haul. When the injured stars return, Arsenal can only get stronger.
Another reason worth considering is Wenger’s changed philosophy? The Frenchman seems to have ditched his esoterically beautiful football for a blend of beautiful and dogged style. In twilights of games now, Arsenal are keen on preserving their lead rather than going ahead to score more thereby risking an equalizer. Wenger tends to bring in defensive minded players in now rather than strikers. Against Swansea, he brought in Arteta, Monreal and Jenkinson when there was a striker (Bendtner) on the bench. This new mentality of the end justifies the means would see Arsenal garnering more points.
The argument that Arsenal have tough fixtures against United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool coming up is valid but there is no reason to fret. Though they are top teams, they are attack minded sides and that will allow Arsenal exploit them. The 4 teams have weak defence and Arsenal will exploit it well.
The final reason why Arsenal can win the title is the presence of funds to spend. Arsenal have money to spend in the winter window should Wenger decide to beef up the squad. Should Le Prof succeed in getting a marquee striker in the winter window, they will be difficult to stop.
Should Arsenal still be on top in January, some detractors would argue that Arsenal will still capitulate. If it happened before, it can happen again. But let me say the chances of a deja vu is slim. Arsenal now have more experienced players in their fold and a determined manager. I don’t see the current Arsenal blowing their lead in the dying stages of the season owing to a disappointment or an injury. If they could hold their nerve to win their last set of matches to secure Champions league football, there’s no reason why they can’t win all their last set of matches to lift the title.