Arsenal – genuine title contenders? by SE
It would not be an anomaly to call Arsenal as one of this season’s genuine contenders for the Premier League title, in addition to Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. And, one of the reasons for that has to be the kind of squad Wenger possesses; Yes, Arsenal could well do with a Fernando or a Matic kind of a defensive midfielder but, still, the North Londoners have reinforced their squad in the best possible way, and the new signings have looked good, too.
Secondly, Wenger seems to have rejuvenated himself, after a couple of not-so-impressive campaigns that underlined his ineptitude to trounce his counterparts, in those potentially title-deciding games. Arsenal are yet to click into top gear, just like their title rivals, but you can already see that intent and prospect of the Gunners putting up a much better challenge this term and, with a bit of good fortune, maybe going on to bag the Premier League title, as well. But, on a realistic note: Can the current Arsenal side bag the Premier League title next May?
Having last weekend’s clash against Everton, as the barometer to determine how different Arsenal are from last season: I thought that the first half was totally opposite to what Arsenal would have ideally wanted. The Gunners went 0-2 down, and the defence was at fault, once again. Yes, going forward, Arsenal were second-best to their opponents on the evening; but it was the defence that would have concerned Wenger more. Now the lowdown between this and last season is that Arsenal conceded goals early on and hence found themselves behind the eight-ball, always. So on the defensive front, Arsenal still look wobbly and that is not going to bode well for their title ambitions.
Arsenal’s Engine Room
Arsenal’s engine room looks quite good, despite the major talking point of the lack of a genuine defensive midfielder. Ramsey has continued from where he left off last season; Wilshere, albeit oblivious for large parts, has made his present felt, sporadically. Arteta has been par for the course, and hasn’t been subject to a costly mistake, so far.
But looking beyond the aforementioned trio, Flamini has continued in the same vein of incurring one caution after another. That will be the primary problem for Arsenal, as they do not have a solid backup for any one of their midfielders. After Cazorla’s sparkling display against Besiktas in the second leg, it’s high time that the manager takes note, and gets the Spaniard playing in the middle of the park a lot more than what he normally does.
All being said and done, Wenger would be hoping that Arsenal’s engine room gets in on the act and performs to the levels it can, as it will be crucial to Arsenal keeping up with Man City and Chelsea, who are off to a good start.
A long injury layoff to the club’s premier striker, Giroud, is definitely a colossal blow for the Gunners, who are managing with Sanchez’s versatility up top. Wenger’s 4-3-3 system has also meant that Ozil can only play on the flanks, and not really orchestrate the tempo, like he did while playing in the hole. And, having played just 160+ minutes, after returning to action, the German playmaker would want to improve personally, more than anything else.
Chamberlain has looked lively, and been one of the most impressive players for Arsenal so far. However, it is a bit baffling that Campbell is not getting enough minutes, to weave his magic. But, over a long campaign, his time will come and, for Arsenal’s sake, the Costa Rican can be ready to go. Walcott is yet to return to action, and Arsenal can be a lot better offensively, with the return of the lighting quick English winger.
With only 2 games into the new season, Arsenal, palpably, haven’t yet gone through the gears they can, once they warmup to the rigours of the Barclays Premier League.
Defence is very much a worry and Arsenal have to sort it out, before they face Man City, Spurs and Chelsea, after the international break culminates. Chambers has looked good at central defence, but with Mertesacker taking his rightful place, Arsenal’s backline will be tested big time, during the coming weeks.
Their Engine room and frontline still has time to acclimatize and unleash their full potential on proceedings. Arsenal’s strength is attack and not so much defence; but if they are to compete for the Premier League title, they will have to become watertight at the back, which, if they can manage, would take them a long way to realizing the Premier League title next May.