Why Arsenal’s title hopes are far from over
While it may seem like Arsenal’s usual crumbling stage has come slightly early this season, there are still many reasons why the Gunners can still turn this season back around and claim their first title in over ten years.
The depth of Arsene Wenger’s squad is stronger than ever, but more importantly there is certainly a better atmosphere throughout the side than there has been in a long, long time. Theo Walcott came out and said that the Gunners were made of stern stuff, and while this was not shown against the two recent shell shocking defeats against Manchester City and Everton, they still have time to prove the doubters wrong.
Losing two 1-0 leads in the space of a week is poor, no matter which club you are, but for Arsenal who are looking to change the perception that currently comes with their mid-season crash every year, it really is woeful.
Arsene Wenger has been full of excuses, or reasons, for Arsenal’s defeats, and the referees have been partially to blame, there’s no doubt about it. The Gunners have been very unlucky with the corner that shouldn’t have been at Goodison Park and two debatable offside goals at the Etihad Stadium, but these things tend to balance themselves out over the course of the season.
The three points against Burnley earlier this year, with the controversial last minute winner is the perfect example of luck being on Arsenal’s side, rather than against them.
Not every decision will go their way, and to use the officials as an excuse is nothing short of poor.
However, the tides can still turn. With Santi Cazorla and Shkodran Mustafi missing, Arsenal don’t seem to dictate the game quite as well, or look as solid. Again though, injuries are to be expected, and the players who have filled in, Gabriel Paulista and Granit Xhaka are not cheap players. They should be able to step up and fill the gaps left behind.
Cazorla’s absence is huge because he makes every attack flow and is one of the best deep lying playmakers in the world. Mustafi alongside Laurent Koscielny had made a formidable partnership, so you can understand why Arsenal fans are frustrated by the injury of a crucial part of their steady back four which is also made up of Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin.
However, Mustafi’s injury is not a long lasting one, and the German international is yet to lose in an Arsenal shirt, a statistic he would undoubtedly love to keep until the end of the season.
The biggest reason Arsenal’s hopes can still turn on its head is the vulnerability that has been shown at times by various title contenders. In the first half against Tottenham, Chelsea looked extremely vulnerable to fast paced attacking. It feels like eventually they will be worked out. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s defensive frailties remain despite garnering a clean sheet against Everton. The turnaround by Bournemouth was the best example of this, in a match that Liverpool would expect to dominate and control which they did – for most of the match.
Wenger and his men need to prove that they are made of sterner stuff. Getting these contract talks out of the way with the likes of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez is essential for the club to drive forward. There is no point drawing out these deals, everyone knows how much both of these players want, and they have more than proven to be worth it. Özil’s form may have dipped but he is still a fantastic player who Arsenal are very lucky to have.
Sanchez is pivotal to the club’s success, he is determined, feisty, and most importantly, an exceptional footballer. To most, he is in the top 10 players in the world, so why this deal is yet to be completed? No one knows.
The crucial point is that there is a lot of time to go in a league where anything can happen. The gap is large, but all it takes is a couple of slip ups from Chelsea, and Arsenal to remain determined and focused, and the tide could easily change. Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, and even Manchester United are in similar boats. This title race is far from over.
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