Arsenal’s stuttering run of form has given Manchester City the upper-hand in what has been a compelling race to the Premier League title. But with plenty of football still to be played, it would be foolish not to expect a few more twists and turns along the way.
Here, we make the case of Arsenal defying the odds by claiming what would be a historic Premier League title:
If Arsenal win all of their remaining games they will be crowned Premier League champions. That is not an opinion, it is simple mathematics. There is an awful long way to go, of course, but the Gunners have the quality to secure maximum points and surge to what would be a famous title success.
Gabriel Jesus’ mid-season injury aside, Arsenal’s durability this season has been nothing short of phenomenal. Mikel Arteta has, by and large, been afforded the luxury of naming the same starting XI each game. That is a rarity these days, when injuries have become more commonplace and the inevitable fatigue kicks in, with elite teams fighting on so many fronts.
A solid argument can be made for Bukayo Saka being named as the Premier League’s player of the season. It almost stretches credulity that the England international is still only 21 years old. Saka has had a wonderful campaign. His goals and assists have been a crucial factor in Arsenal’s rise to the top, but his calm demeanour cannot be downplayed.
Saka exudes confidence and humility, which has unquestionably had a knock-on effect upon his teammates throughout the season. He will be remembered as an Arsenal great, no matter what happens.
Eyebrows were raised by many Arsenal fans when Aaron Ramsdale arrived in 2021 for a heck of a sum. What was the point of forking out a load of cash on a back-up goalkeeper to Bernd Leno?, was the cry of many supporters. Now we know why. Ramsdale is young and learning his trade, but he has had a fantastic season and, crucially, is still open to bags of improvement.
The England international’s performance at Anfield in April, when he pulled off two jaw-dropping saves, enabled Arsenal to escape from Liverpool with a point. He can be too emotional at times, but Ramsdale has played a massive role in the Gunners’ rise to the top. They will need him now more than ever in the run-in.
It is now almost beyond belief that Mikel Arteta was fighting for his job not so long ago. There are parallels here with Sir Alex Ferguson, whose position at Old Trafford was also under threat in his early days at Manchester United. The rest, as the old cliché goes, is history.
Arteta, like Ferguson, now has the chance to build a legacy at Emirates Stadium. His players love him. The fans love him. The boardroom loves him. He has dedicated his career at Arsenal upon the foundations of building with youth, and the fruits of his labours are now yielding handsome dividends. His tactical sharpness, allied to his wide judgement of using the bench to good effect, will be crucial if Arsenal are to win the title.
Honest Arsenal supporters will be the first to admit that their collective spirit can quite easily be broken when things are not going their way. Those dark days under Unai Emery and in the early throes of Mikel Arteta’s reign are testament to that.
But, make no mistake about it, the feel-good factor is very much back amongst the Arsenal faithful. Home and away, their support this season has been as vocal and enthusiastic as at any stage during the Arsene Wenger glory years.
The nerves are sure to kick in over the next few weeks – and who could blame them? – but Gunners fans are clearly so proud of this young side that you get the sense they are just happy to be on what could still be a magical journey. This is by contrast to Man City supporters, who demand success and are often rather muted – even when things are going their way, which is pretty much all the time.
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There has been a wobble, but there cannot be another one. Having squandered 2-0 leads at Liverpool and West Ham, perhaps the more cynical Arsenal supporters out there might have already hoisted the white flag of surrender.
That is perfectly understandable as Manchester City now appear to have the momentum. It would, though, be folly to underestimate Mikel Arteta and his ultra-committed players. They might lack experience for the challenge ahead, but few would dare question their dedication to the cause. But if Arsenal are to win the title, they cannot afford any more slip-ups when in the ascendancy.
How Arsenal mentally handle the pressure will be just as important as their physical endeavours in the weeks ahead.
In the end, it might well come down to one game. Arsenal’s trip to the Etihad Stadium on April 26 will be the defining match of the entire Premier League campaign. Recent history suggests the Gunners are up against it – the last time they played City away in the Premier League resulted in a 5-0 thumping – but if Arsenal are not up for this one it would be a betrayal of what we have hitherto witnessed. Mikel Arteta’s men need to catch City on a bad day to win, but they unquestionably have the talent to secure three points. Pep Guardiola’s men seem to have timed their challenge to perfection, yet they remain susceptible on the counter-attack and not quite as sure-footed at the back compared to previous seasons. Put simply, Arsenal’s Premier League dreams will be dependent upon how they do at City.
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