Stan Collymore has claimed that Arsenal have “no chance” of winning the Premier League title following their fast start to the Premier League season.
The Gunners sit top of the table after five games, with five wins and a subsequent 100 per cent record. What’s more, they can stretch their early advantage to three points with victory over Manchester United on Sunday.
Arsenal’s impressive form follows last season’s frustration in the battle with Tottenham to finish in the top four.
The Gunners had fourth spot in their grasp until Spurs pipped them to the post. Indeed, a 3-0 win over Arsenal for Antonio Conte’s side proved a major tipping point.
And back in March, Collymore successfully predicted that Arsenal would fall away amid the pressure on their shoulders.
Skip forward to the present day and he has admitted that Mikel Arteta’s side may make the top four. However, he dismissed early claims of a title challenge as nonsensical.
“Last season, I was so confident Arsenal would fail to make the top four that I vowed to buy a shirt with ‘Arteta 8’ on the back if they did and plaster pictures of me wearing it all over social media,” Collymore said.
“To be fair, it’s not a chance I’m willing to take this time out after seeing the start they have made.
“But just as I’m happy to concede they could well qualify for the Champions League next May, I’m also willing to stick my neck on the line right now and tell all those Gooners who think they will be challenging for the title after five wins from five that they simply have no chance.”
Collymore asks stern Jesus, Arsenal question
Arsenal’s strong opening run comes after an impressive transfer window. Striker Gabriel Jesus is the marquee signing from Manchester City, who also let Oleksandr Zinchenko move to the Emirates Stadium.
And both players have impressed for Mikel Arteta’s side, who have kept two clean sheets while scoring 13 goals.
Jesus has scored three of them, while also notching three Premier League assists. To many observers, the £45million addition has therefore proved the signing of the season so far.
According to Collymore, Jesus will have big questions to answer about his form as the season progresses.
“Their fans will say Gabriel Jesus and Oleks Zinchenko have been brought in to help the mentality in the dressing room at that point,” Collymore wrote in his Daily Mirror column of the prospect of another Arsenal top-four battle.
“And I love the way Jesus, in particular, has started the season. But, as Mikel Arteta said a couple of weeks ago, the lad made just 18 Premier League starts in two seasons prior to joining the Gunners, so it’s a fair question for any of us to ask ‘Can he keep up this form for an entire campaign?’
“We don’t know yet how he will respond after the World Cup, or how will he play in January and February when it’s cold and wet and he’s still expected to be the main man.”
Gunners face stern next test
Arsenal may have won all of their first five Premier League games, but they have yet to face a top-six Premier League rival.
That changes on Sunday, when they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
United have faced – and beaten – Liverpool already this season, proving their ability to get a big win under Erik ten Hag.
Amid all the early-season hype about Arsenal this campaign, they must now prove their mettle against their rivals.
In fact, the period from now to the middle of October is a crucial one for Arsenal.
As well as United, they play Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City. Get through that period with points on the board from those matches and Arteta will rightfully earn more praise.