Can Arsenal win the Premier League this season? Arsene Wenger thinks they can and that’s good enough for our man Matt Briggs.
Listening to Wenger’s lexicon this week Arsenal fans might be forgiven in thinking this is going to be their year in the Premier League.
The Gunners chief has recently been bold in his analysis of the season so far, which sees Arsenal sitting in second spot – level on points with leaders Man City with 10 games gone.
It’s certainly not their best start since they last won the Premier League in 2003/4 but it’s definitely raised the fans’ hopes. In fact only three times since their last title win have they bettered their current tally of 22 points from their first 10 games.
In 2013 they had 25 points with 10 games gone and eventually finished fourth, in 2009 they collected 22 points and finished third and in 2007 they managed a huge 26 points but could only finish the season third best – none of which are great omens.
Indeed Arsenal have got form for starting well and fading, including last season which did see them win the FA Cup, but they only won two of their last six games to finish the season 12 points behind champions Chelsea, who had sewn up the league with three games to spare.
Wenger though is confident this time around that his squad has the belief they can go on and build on their good early season form and win the title for the first time in 12 seasons.
“They are all on board and they have the belief,” Wenger said after Saturday’s win over Everton, which temporarily put Arsenal on top of the table.
“Cazorla won many balls and blocked many tackles, even Ozil. Once you have that in the team, it is not easy to get it, but it shows the belief is there and then you need enough humility to keep it in there.
“You need to convince the players that you have to work hard to win football games in the Premier League and that you need all 11 to do that.”
Strong words from the French boss, who last week claimed their results in the second half of last season has got them believing this time around.
Last week Wenger said: We have strengthened our belief with our run last season, from January 1 – you could feel there was really a change in our stability.
“We have shown that we can handle the pressure.
“What is the most important for me is to continue to develop as a team, to feel that we grow in the quality of our game.”
The bookies have shortened the Gunners to 7/4 second favourites, while a number of pundits have talked up Wenger’s men, including the respected and not-so-well respected.
Carlo Ancelotti said: “Manchester City are the most complete squad in the Premier League, but every now and then they go off piste. They are not 100 per cent reliable.
“I’d watch out for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger did well to change their system, so he waits and counters to get the best out of the pace of Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez.”
Meanwhile, Ian Wright, who is renowned for seeing things through Arsenal-tinted spectacles claimed the Gunners “can win the league”.
Exciting times man… This team CAN win the league ???? https://t.co/XogXWGdVEK
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) October 24, 2015
Wright though has hardly stuck his neck on the line, because there is not a pundit in the country who would say that Arsenal were not capable of winning the league, but can they go on and make winning the title a reality?
That’s a whole different ball game.
But, with 10 games gone, the signs are good and their title rivals have diminished since the season kicked off. With champions Chelsea down in 15th spot the layers have Jose Mourinho’s men at 50/1 to retain their title and their hopes have all but gone leaving favourites Manchester City and Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United.
City are the obvious danger and the bookies’ favourites, but with talisman Sergio Aguero and David Silva missing against United they looked a shadow of the team that kicked off the season with five straight wins.
And City will no doubt be increasingly concerned by Aguero’s persistent injury problems which have plagued his time at The Etihad.
United meanwhile, have not yet shown championship-winning form and were easily brushed aside 3-0 by the Gunners at The Emirates recently.
Arsenal though are showing title-winning form and with a new-found work ethic, which Wenger has eluded to, they look the most likely team to win the league at this moment.
The January transfer window of course will give teams the opportunity to strengthen their hands, but it would not be a surprise to see the big boys stick with what they have already got.
Wenger certainly does not have a record of spending big in winter and after the sole arrival of Petr Cech in the summer was heavily scrutinised, he may well decide to go with the current squad for the whole season – in a bid to prove his belligerent approach can work.
Forget Wright’s Arsenal ‘can win the league’ comment, they will win it.
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