Why Arsenal are not quite good enough to win the Premier League at the moment

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?
One. Age.
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.
Muha Al~wattan

(Article updated after Brentford victory)

Nairobi Kenya

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  1. It’s too early to conclude, because we haven’t played against Man City, Liverpool, Spuds and Chelsea yet. I’m sure Spuds will lose the ball possession in NLD, but their attackers just need a few chances to punish us

    I agree with our lack of depth though. Leicester won EPL when they didn’t have to play in four competitions

    1. There is nothing to fear about those teams. The question is whether we can deal with the pressure of being top. When the season ends I only hope with hindsight Arteta will not come to regret his trust in certain overrated players because there is a very good chance for him to win the league this season. His management is going to be tested to the max this season and the outcome will say a lot about him.

      1. Son was scary in counter-attacks last week, so I’m afraid he’ll punish us again from outside our penalty box

        I just hope the big teams lose some of their key players next year, because of their heavily congested fixtures

        1. I get your point but you have forgotten that was Leicester, a team with a hopless goalkeeper and one that has conceded goals for fun. Son has been firing blanks all season and opened his account as a sub. The real question is if Arteta will play his best players. White and the like shouldn’t be starting but complacency can make us think certain players are good enough.

          1. I thought White is one of our best players? He’s been playing very well in the inverted RB position

            We’ll need Saliba and him to nullify Son

            1. I don’t even know why we are talking about the title. Lets not delude ourselves until we have played enough games against the other so called Top 6 teams.
              We are yet to play City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spuds. Our first real test was against United and we bottled it.

              Lets just be honest with ourselves. In the real world you have to take a step before you start running. We have not won a title in nearly 20 years now. We have not been in the Top 4 for about 6 years. But we are deluding ourselves by mentioning a Title this a Title that..

              Lets first beat the other teams that finished above us last season. Let’s cement ourselves into the Top 4 then we can even start insinuating this “Title gossip”.

            2. He’s not good enough and will struggle with pace. Tomiyasu is clearly superior in almost every aspect in comparison. Tomiyasu is also better for Saka. You must’ve forgotten Tomiyasu pocketed Son the last time.

              1. Yes, I’ve forgotten Tomiyasu vs Son

                Tomiyasu is taller than White, but I like White’s passing ability. I think the way White passed the ball around is better than Tomiyasu, but let’s see what Tomiyasu can do in cup games first

                1. That is debatable. Tomiyasu is one of the best crossers in this team and he’s able to do it easily with both feet. He also switches play very well when passing . At this point White is starting because Arteta wants him to not because he’s better than Tomiyasu. White plays safe most of the times.

              2. We are a work in progress. Nobody gave us chance to be at this level by this time under Arteta. But look at how far he has brought Arsenal.

                From the submission my major concern is the squad depth especially in midfield because of the competitions we are engaged in. If we can continue with this form through to the world cup and by January window get one or two of our targets, Arsenal will surely be dreaming more than top 4. Saka is a consistent player and can give you more than 38 matches in a season and we also have players who can play in his position. Vieira has already shown what he can bring to the table. But like I initially said, Arsenal is a work in progress and in not too a long time we will be right there at the top with the best if not the best. Oh I’m dreaming bigger now but that’s how beautiful it gets🤓

  2. Well written article NK – really good read.
    .
    Strangely, I don’t agree with etther of your weak spots, I see Partey as our biggest concern, purely because of his injury problems… and I’m still not 100% sure about Ramsdale – don’t know why, as his stats are very good, just a nagging feeling that he’s going to makes a mistake in every game.

    Saka does need to be rested, in order not to become a burn out and I think MA will address that sooner rather than later.

    Enjoyed the read and your thoughts.

    1. Good Points.
      Maybe Marquinhos can give Saka some rest?

      I have the same feeling about Ramsdale. When you look at it, the GK is actually a position, where we are weaker this year, because we sold Leno. Not that it was a mistake to sell him, because he was clearly not happy, and wanted to get a chance to play regularly. So I think, we had to sell. But it does make us vulnerable, if Ramsdale gets injured, or has a drop in form.
      Fingers crossed.

  3. Why do I feel there’s no amount of players we’ll get for people to ever believe arsenal are the real deal. I am not saying arsenal are an out an out title contenders but these title contenders (Man-city an the likes) still have to play in 4 competitions, still struggle sometimes against teams in EPL, so I believe they too could fumble along the way. Before the season ends, there’ll be opportunities for top teams including aresnal, if arsenal had this same quality of a squad last season, most games we drew or lost probably won’t have been the same. Remember no one gave us a sniff of hope of top four last season and we ended up being this close to getting it done. We might just pull another surprise this season as well, only that this one might even be more glorious.

  4. I’m not sure about Mudryk being “needed” as such. It looks as though Marquinhos will be covering cups. Saka’s been looking “tired” from the first game of the season so that shouldn’t be happening, it sounds like an excuse for a well-liked player (people seem to find it difficult to simply say “Saka had a poor game by his standards”).

    Also not sure that there’s an “upgrade” for Xhaka as such – it seems slightly illogical to say that he “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”…

    And then go on to suggest that you can replace something unique. He may be a bit slow after breaking their defensive line but not many midfielders are faster than all of the other team’s defence, especially *when running with the ball at their feet* (which is a different thing, any player will be slower with the ball than without it – except perhaps Maradona).

    Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses. If Xhaka is free then the rest of the team need to realise that they should be getting up with him to give him an outlet and take advantage of his breaks – they’re not supposed to be spectators at that point in the play!

    Overall, I agree that it’s unlikely that we’ll win the PL this season. I expect City will come good over the long haul. I’m not convinced (yet) by any of the rest of last season’s top 6 though, they all seem to have problems to solve (but they may solve them of course, time will tell).

  5. The team that wins the league is the most consistent over a season, not calendar year, not first 7 games, not the last 10 games and not over short bursts. We have spent easily enough to get a team capable of “challenging” and if the parts fall into place we can win the league, just like any other team. Challenging is the first thing we have to do before we can talk about winning any league. We have to consistently beat mid table and lower teams, while competing with top 6 teams and getting regular points. We failed against utd and now have spuds and Liverpool to gauge us with. We will have a better idea in just a few weeks as to where we really are.

    1. 👍 If you think you are not good enojgh to win, uou won’t win. Thankfully the Arsenal players believe, otherwise they wouldn’t bother turning up.

    2. That’s the point. Arsenal have a great chance to win the league this season. There is no point in denying that. From the eye test the other top clubs have yet to settle like us so we have to take advantage of that. Our chance to win the league is so great I feel if we had bought certain players I could confidently say now we’d finish in the top 2.

  6. A well researched and written article. The most important factor is our squad depth and by that I mean quality depth. If we take man for man, the difference between our starting XI and back up for each position is quite large in terms of quality depth and experience. So that is one problem Arteta and Edu must address in the winter window. One midfielder and one winger is essential. I still feel we can have a go at the title although it would be very difficult. Consistency in winning matches will be the key.

    1. We are not going to win the title, as all teamsm ourselves included, have far weaker SQUADS than City. That is sheer realism!
      We do have a real chance to finish third or even, if we avoid TOO MANY key injuries, then second place.

      I do not see us missing top four, unless we have a catastrophically unluckuy injury problem.

      But City will SOON power clear of the pack, including us. REALISM!

      1. And what makes you think City will not have a season like they had when Liverpool won the league.

        We do have a chance to win this league.

        Now is not the time, however, to talk about the title. Just talk about winning the next game, and the next, and the next. Then we’ll see where we when the tape is in sight.

        You have to believe you can win, to win.

  7. You raised good points in your analysis. Had we signed a DM I’d be more confident. Partey has so much to offer going forward and his best role is as a box to box midfielder. However, every season is different and this season other top clubs are still finding their feet but the quality of some smaller teams is making it difficult for them to settle whilst we have taken the lead. If we can deal with the pressure of being top and can best all the big sides at least once we will win the league and I say this confidently. As we keep being top the belief will grow stronger and it will be more difficult for us to come down.

  8. I’m a bit worried about ESR. He’s only 21 but he’s been injured several times for the past 3 years because of the exact same groin injury. Talking from experience, groin injuries are real pain in the arse, for they take a long time to heal.

  9. Most fans are realists. The league is probably a bridge too far. Top 4 and the EL would be the first goal. Then depending on what state we are in Mar we should re-consider. A challenge and maybe finishing 2nd or 3rd with a small gap of let us say 6 – 8 points against the eventual winners would be huge progress.

  10. Fans and pundits can have an opinion but coaches tell it as it is. Five top coaches tell us that Xhaka is a great player, anyone agsinst it is likely giving just biased opinion. 3 coaches have said in no uncertain terms that this Arsenal is a monster, a different animal, who am I to doubt them. Remember some of them like Brendan Rodgers used to look at Arsenal as a weak irritant rather than a top team. This time they are cowed. Let opinions flow but Arsenal will do what makes us love it and that is playing good football. Liverpool is doing badly but they are still being rated highly. If Arsenal were in Liverpool’s position, the opinion daggers would be flying all over the place including on JA. Leicister that was supposed to be better than us, no one is talking about them. Bravo MA and Granit Xhaka, keep the boys firing on.

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