Head Vs Heart – Are Arsenal really favourites for the title?

So Gary Neville has come under fire for still predicting that Man City will retain their title, despite Arsenal having a 5 point lead at the top of the table with a game in hand.

Take your emotions away though and you can understand why.

The Gunners have collected 50 points out of 19 fixtures , their quickest ever to that total.

Yet it’s only the halfway point, and it’s asking a lot for any side to repeat those standards.

This time last year we all thought we were in a great position to return to the Champions League and essentially bottled it.

If the pressure of a top 4 race proved too much for the youngest squad in the division, is it asking too much for a year later for the same group of players to have the mentality to deal with a title race ?

Jesus and Zinchenko have brought a winning mentality to our dressing room but is that enough?

If it is, both will become immortal in North London.

Sir Alex Fergurson used to call April/May ‘Squeaky Bum time’. That was the time of the year he got the best out of his sides. As long as they were in contention when those months came, he believed they had a chance.

Man City have had that mindset in 4 out of the last five seasons, prepared to put winning sequences together, knowing even a draw could prove to be costly. Not just are they used to that position, they are used to getting over the line.

That’s the issue we face. We don’t know if Arsenal can handle the pressure, but we know Man City can.

At the Etihad they have a group who have won everything domestically together, we have a couple.

My own point of view?

It’s head vs heart.

My head says that if I had to bet money on it (and wasn’t a Gooner) there’s logical reasons why you would make City favourites to lift the Prem.

My heart says, for every brilliant moment like Sunday, are we setting ourselves up for heartbreak?

If we win it, it will be by keep winning matchs and finding out that zero pressure was ever put on us.

That’s how Leicester won it; in the end no real challenge came .

When Danny Welbeck headed a winner against them at the Emirates it seemed we would mount a challenge but then we lost our next two games.

Spurs will claim they were close but in reality they were always having to win to stay in the hunt, never winning to go above the Foxes.

So bizarrely I think it’s more likely we win the title by a big margin then a small one. If we end up in a chase with City based on a few points, they have the experience over us

Saying all of that , I’ve been burnt so many times, I probably won’t let myself believe till it’s mathematically a fact.

Who do you make favourites for the title?

Dan Smith

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27 Comments

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  1. There is a factual mistake in Dans piece. Firstly, we are NOT the “same group as a year ago” and I fail to understand why any fan at all could fail to know that truth!

    Secondly , his mistake was to once again write a piece that has more pessimism than most of our fans have. DAN CANNOT HELP BEING NEGATIVE AND TO MY MIND THAT IS A HUGE MISTAKE.

    Not because his head thinks City will likely win the title; but because he simply cannot help being relentlessly negative, even though he is careful to allow himself wriggle room in case he is mistaken. It is NOT the sort of article that Gooners, excited and thrilled as we are at how our team is playing, wish to have to read. Once again!
    Finally, it makes no logical sense at all to say “that if we win the title it is more likely to be by a lot than a little”. Simply a daft statement. Though as DAN SEEMS TO DISAGREE WITH MY VIEW ON SO MANY THINGS, ITS POSSIBLE HE WOULD CLASS A WIN FOR US BY SAY THREE POINTS AS A LOT OF POINTS. Most of us would consider “a lot” to be at least 8 or 10 points or more and to me that is extremely unlikely, bordering on nonsense. Far more likely, is IF we win, it will be very close indeed!

    1. So apart from …….
      Ramsdale
      White
      Gabriel
      Tireney
      Cedric
      Holding
      Tomyasu
      Elneney
      Partey
      Xakha
      Lokonga
      Smith Rowe
      Odegarrd
      Saka
      Eddie
      Martinelli
      This isn’t the same group of players lol

      1. Dan
        Each year, players mature, new players come in and others fall by the wayside. It’s part of the rhythm of football. 4 of the group are not automatic starters and ESR has been largely injured. White, Xhaka and our captain are massively improved. Add Saka to that list. The reality is that by adding a few new players, the dynamic has been altered. Add Saliba, and another couple of improved players – Gabriel and Eddie, then it’s plain that most are physically the same but on a different trajectory in terms of mentality
        Sustain that mentality and teams will continue to struggle against us.

          1. Hi SueP…

            You are completely correct! And I completely understand Dan’s nerves, and perhaps he is putting too much pressure on himself…

            He began by requesting that Arteta finish in one of the Champions League spots, but seeing as Arteta will meet such a challenge, it has become almost natural to increase the challenge…

            Again, those who only focus on outputs will miss the fundamental and critical role of “process” and “inputs”… I have always said that as long as the inputs are correct, which includes bringing in the right people and mastering the process, the outcome will eventually match our expectations.

            The players have all mastered the art of football (thanks to Mikel), including positional play, control, passing, and composure, as well as hard work and dedication. All of these are indicators of outstanding success in the game…

            Finally, as I always say, in reality there are no absolutes, only probabilities… As a result, my odds of Arsenal winning the Premier League have risen from 70% to 80%… And if they win the Man City game, it will soar to 90%…

            Wishing you a blessed day…

            Cheers!

      2. You are ignoring the magical impact on Saliba, Zinchenko and Jesus from the beginning.

        Add Viera, Trossad and hopefully Kiwior…

        We are not the same team as a year ago, the table shows that, the football we play shows that… I mean we could not trouble Liverpool defense last season but great them well this time around, We are dominating games and winning at difficult grounds like Palace and Brighton…

        What else do you need… This is a confident side and I am very convinced we will handle Man C better at home cos this Season we are avoiding needless cards which is part of a maturing side.

        Saliba Saka avoided suspension despite being one booking away for 4 games.

        Those little details are what cost us in the games against City, Spurs and Liverpool last Season.

        So yeah, this team is not the same. We are better, wiser, stronger and more unity players and fans alike than ever before.

  2. Dan, another good article.

    I have always assumed that the team leading the PL with a sizeable point advantage and game(s)) in hand, were the favourites to win it.

    Sometimes that hasn’t been the case, but the upcoming PL fixture (not the fa cup game) will show everyone the difference, if any, between the two clubs.

    I believe MA has got into Pep’s head and the latter’s press conference regarding out club and supporters proves that point.

    If we beat city, many people outside of The Arsenal, will be shocked, but I don’t think we, as a club, will be surprised in the slightest.

    That’s my head talking and my heart beating out the same message!!

  3. IMO we did NOT “ essentially bottle it” we had injuries in key areas of the pitch, MF, CB & both FB positions, I get injuries are part & parcel of a season, however squad depth cost us & not improving in the January window like the team down the road, at the end of the season it looked costly, in light of bringing in Jesus & Zinchenko in the summer in the long term we did the right thing, this season we added GJ, OZ & Vieira & Saliba finally came, the players are a year better,wiser & more determined due to how 21/22 finished, this will be our best chance to win the title & I hope we can keep this form going, we can win the title, wether we do is up to MA & the squad.

  4. How people expect city to win 19 straight matches with how they are playing baffles me and how the same people expect us not to reproduce our last 19 games form I wonder.
    Is there a match we won by luck in our last 19? Performance wise we are far better than last season no matter the scores nor time this team keeps its cool and play there game HOW THEY WANT TO NOT ACCORDING TO THE TEAM THEY ARE FACING, to me that’s their biggest strengths.
    Come what happen by May I dnt think a team nobody gave chance to break into top4 if they should lose the league to the team been anointed by all should been seen as a failure cause you never backed nor trust them to be there in the first place even when they are surging upward ure been doubtful of there success

  5. If we get in a quality hit-the-ground-running DM, I’d give us a very good chance indeed.
    It’s not as if City is blowing away everybody with goals. Against Spurs, they could (should, in fact) have lost that game. But trust those bunch down the road! So City is going to drop points like everyone else especially with the demands of European football soon to resurface.
    With the two signings we have made, we now have cover for two vital positions. So barring any more frustrating injuries, I believe we can mount a decent challenge for the title. My belief has grown so much after the Brighton win; then the one at Spurs; and lately the ManU one.
    COYG!!!!

  6. If we win the Epl title this season, us Arsenal will be happy, joyfull, delighted and elated we’ve won it at last. Which comes after it has taken us 18 consecutive seasons campaign to win it again, after we last won it in 2003-2004 season campaign as us know.
    As things stand now in this season’s campaign in the Epl. And at half stage into the campaign with Arsenal leading the chasing packs on 50 points on the table. But with their closest rivals Man City behind them on 45 points and have played 1 match more than Arsenal.
    Us Arsenal are the favourites now to win the Epl title this season as some factors have indicated that Arsenal is the likely club side that will win it this season.
    One of the factors being talked about is, most of the teams in history, that had top the Epl table after Christmas went ahead to win the title.
    I don’t see the status quo changed to be different for Arsenal to not win it this time around. As others teams on their current position on the table before them had won it in the past.
    So therefore, I am very much inclined to Arsenal beating Man City to the Epl title win this season. More so, if the Gunners sustained their first half of the season top form performance that saw them garnered 50 points. With another top form performance in the 2nd half of the season, that can see them garner another 50 points to reach 100 points or more to win the title.
    Which I think the Gunners will be capable to do taking into considerations the 2 new recent top players acquisition reinforcements they’ve had will help them to attain their goals this season. And it’s very likely they will receive more helps from the club this winter window. One In the form of a top new midfield enforcer signing done for them shortly to reinforced the midfield for them. That will further help them to attain their 100 points plus Epl title win push this season.
    In furtherance to their aims to win the title this season. The Gunners and Arteta should as a precursor to their hosting Man City in February in the Epl and beat them. Use their playing against them at the Etihad in the FA Cup 4th rd match test the water to try to beat them and beat them as a confidence boost ahead of our Epl away match to Everton.
    So therefore, let Arteta field his strongest Gunners team available to him that he can field to beat the Citizens team on Friday night tomorrow unfailingly.

  7. There is no head vs heart anything discussion. Right now at the halfway point of the season we are the favorite for the title plain and simple. We dont know

    We are dominating pretty much every team we play regardless of their league position. We have the pts to show for that dominance.
    We are showing a swagger and monster mentality that nothing can faze us. We concede the 1st goal, no problem we just go and cancel that goal like nothing. If we score the 1st goal, its pretty much game over for the opponent.

    People are saying M City haven’t started their usual win streak but get this straight they will come to the Emirates knowing that a defeat= bye bye title. If our lead gets to double digits i believe we will fly off without any pressure to rein us in.

    1. I agree with those above who say that it is a false dichotomy. There are logical arguments that can be made for either Arsenal or Man C to end up as champions.
      Our performances up till now and the league position means we are correctly slight favourites.
      Man City have recent a recent experience advantage, no doubt. The biggest advantage they have is the strength of their bench rather than strength of character. Far too much is made of “mindset” or other similar preoccupations of pundits and fans.

      1. That is true that the City bench is stronger but I firmly believe that Arteta and his staff have added a steelier mindset which I don’t think should be overlooked. They don’t roll over now, whereas a top 4 spot was lost last season for lacking it.

  8. At this point in time I would prefer the law of average
    How many teams after playing 19 games ( halfway through the season ) with a 5 – 10 point lead went on to win the league
    That would give you an estimate on the chances of Arsenal winning the league in percentage
    E.g…we have X % chance of winning the league

  9. It doesn’t matter what we think.
    The facts are, our ambitious rebuilding project lead by Arteta and backed by the owners has shown us, where we are heading. Both the players individually and the team have improved greatly. Not just because Zinchenko and Jesus have been added. More so because their are young and talented, picked to be coached into the team we are seeing.
    Whether we can go all the way, is too early to conclude. But we can conclude, if we stay true to the project, we can get there sooner or later.
    To set it up now, as it would be a failure not to win this years is rubbish.
    You didn’t even think we would get into top 4.

  10. What’re you even saying? After gamweek 3 last season people were insinuating arsenal to have a relegation battle towards the end of the season rather they were having a top four battle even ahead of utd. This season after 3 games people thought atmost we’ll get top four but here we’re 5 points ahead with our most point in a season at this point of a season. City this city that, what if just what if city lose to arsenal, seems people haven’t thought of that possibility right. That means they city will be closer to tenth than to us at top.

  11. I believe if we win our next 3 PL fixtures which includes Man City at home, the gap will be at least 8 points with a game in hand ( hopefully Spurs can do a favor this time round to help stretch the lead even further) then we will probably be viewed as favorites by the majority of bookmakers, pundits, fans etc.

  12. The thing to remember is Arteta has won the title with City so he knows what it takes.
    Our team has improved dramatically the last year losing plenty of deadwood along the way.
    We have gained a couple of serial winners too.
    City have new players too and some of them have won nothing yet.
    Is Grealish handling the pressure?
    He’s still not the main man.
    Mahrez is the one stepping up now but KdB looks a bit tired this season.
    Can he hack another intense title race AND CL hunt ?
    Can the Cyborg keep it going?
    Plenty of doubts about City’s capacity for winning also.

  13. We are favourites with the head. This is played out in all the bookmaker’s odds which it must be noted are still weighted heavily towards City’s previous success, if Liverpool were in our situation they would be much heavier favourites. If your head believes City should be favourites then substantial amounts of money (relative to your own personal finances) should be placed on them because those mistakes are rare by bookies. It’s not a gamble if your head knows the prices are wrong and City should be favourites, it’s an entirely sensible logical investment.

    Most people confuse favourites and the percentage chance of winning it as guaranteed to win it. Obviously not. Twice last year we were much shorter odds for the top 4 than we are for the title now and on both occasions, it still suggested we’d miss out on the top 4 1 in every 4 seasons. Imagine that happened every week 1 day one thing happened and another 3 days a different preferred thing happened you would hardly consider the 1 negative day particularly unlikely or rare. For the title now we are a little above 1 in 2 which is fantastic and we are favourites but it is not won yet. That’s the general gist of the misunderstanding of odds. Was going to write an article on it funnily enough (more carefully laid out than this reply) but figured it was an appropriate response here.

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