5 Reasons Arsenal Can Win The Premier League
Having been priced at odds of 23.00 after their opening weekend loss to Aston Villa, Arsenal now find themselves at odds of 6.00 and top of the table. Today Tim Poole gives us 5 reasons the Gunners can win the Premier League.
It is an unfamiliar sight – Arsenal being top of the Premier League. As Gunners fans will no doubt tell you, it has been nine long, frustrating years since their side managed to win the title.
Seven games into the new league season, however, and Arsene Wenger’s side sit proudly at the top of the table – and on an eleven-game unbeaten run in all competitions. Could their barren run finally be set to end?
As young as the current campaign is, the evidence is compelling...
#1 - Magic Mesut
There has been one particular name on the lips of Arsenal fans since deadline day in August: that of Mesut Ozil. And just four league games into his Emirates career, the 24-year-old has made a seamless transition into English football, slipping in between enemy lines and forging a potent chemistry with those around him. The German’s movement off the ball and ability to unlock the potential of his team-mates has mesmerised, while he has already topped the Premier League assists chart, as well as opening his Arsenal goal account in the Champions League.
Yet what the 24-year-old, entering the prime years of his career, now offers Wenger’s side goes beyond his deadly eye for a pass and ability to orchestrate play in the final third – as good as those alone are. Indeed, Ozil has also given Arsenal the option of adopting a more direct approach against lesser opposition. In the 3-1 win against Stoke City, for instance, the playmaker was involved in all three of his side’s goals – but from set-pieces and not open play. Such qualities give the Gunners a tactical alternative against teams who elect to shut up shop and play a defensive game against the north London side, making Ozil’s contribution even more invaluable.
#2 - The Form of Aaron Ramsey
With the clamour for new signings this summer – and the subsequent capture of Ozil – little had been said of Aaron Ramsey in pre-season. Of those Arsenal fans looked to for inspiration, Jack Wilshere topped the bill as a potential talisman.
But four goals, two assists and an average of 71 passes per game (a rate better than Andres Iniesta) later, the formbook suggests there is a new name in the running to be considered Arsenal’s key man.
And Ramsey’s contribution is hardly limited to attacking areas, with the Welshman averaging more than five clean tackles per game. The Gunners’ 2-1 win against Swansea City provides the perfect example; in that match, Ramsey completed a remarkable seven successful challenges – while also scoring one of his side’s two goals and assisting the other.
If the 22-year-old can maintain that form for a whole season, there is no telling what heights he – and Arsenal – could scale.
#3 - Goals Giroud
Arsenal’s pursuit of a world-class centre-forward this summer left a bitter taste in the mouth of most Gunners fans. Their failure to, first, land the signature of Gonzalo Higuain and then that of Luis Suarez played with the emotions of supporters and tainted the club’s already damaged reputation within the transfer market.
All along, Olivier Giroud must have been watching in despair.
But what a reaction that has led to. Four goals and two assists in seven games tell a story – but not even the full one. The Frenchman, with his deft touch, pinpoint finishing and equally impressive strength and pace, has taken it upon himself to become a focal point, involving himself in every attacking move and contributing to a large share of the league leaders’ goals.
Underneath it all, Giroud seems to be making a poignant statement: that Arsenal need not sign a prolific striker – for they already have one.
#4 - Injury Returnees
During the transfer window, huge concern had been expressed about Arsenal’s fragile squad depth. Early season injuries to Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski compounded those fears, before an ankle problem also ruled Santi Cazorla out for several weeks.
Now, however, a closer look at the Gunners’ medical table can only provide further cause for hope for Arsenal fans. Six games into the Premier League season, Wenger’s side have clearly developed a strong cohesion – but with Arteta now back (the Spaniard successfully completed 75 out of 76 passes against Napoli in the Champions League) and Cazorla, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott all waiting to return, any fitness worries will be curtailed by a plethora of capable deputies.
A case in point lies up front. Indeed, even if Giroud were to fall to injury at any time, Wenger could deploy Walcott to lead the line, pushing opposition defences deeper through the England forward’s pace and allowing the more creative players in behind – Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere etc. – to do the damage.
In essence, every position on the field has cover and Wenger has enough weapons to call upon for the duration of the campaign.
#5 - Defensive Solidity
Watching Per Mertesacker chase a loose ball can often feel like watching a wildlife documentary. In the equivalent scene, the German defender is the helpless deer that is overrun by a predatory lion. What has become clear over the past year, though, is that Mertesacker, for his woeful lack of pace, is an exceptional reader of the game – which just so happens to be the perfect ingredient for Laurent Koscielny to work with.
The Frenchman has, in the past, admitted that he enjoys playing alongside the lamppost-resembling Mertesacker as he can compensate for the German’s low speed by sweeping in behind him during moments of need. And however the pair choose to do it, they have developed an almost telepathic understanding, with Arsenal losing just once in 25 games while the duo have played.
That defensive solidity has, in turn, aided another successful aspect of Wenger’s current side: their phenomenal away form. The Gunners are yet to taste defeat on the road in 13 games in all competitions – a run dating back to their 2-0 win at Bayern Munich in March – and supporters are daring to dream as to when exactly that run will come to an end.
Current Arsenal Premier League Odds - Odds as at 7th October 2013.
|Win Premier League||12.00||6.00||6.00||6.00||6.00||6.00|
|Top 4 Finish||1.67||1.50||1.44||1.33||1.40||1.40|
|w/o Big 3||1.73||1.80||1.91||1.67||1.80||1.83|
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimothyPoole