Arsenal has been having a tremendous season. They are already over the halfway mark and comfortably sit atop the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta’s rebuilding project could culminate in a title this year, but they will have to hold off the mighty challenge from his coaching sensei, Pep Guardiola.
Having amassed the fifth most points at the halfway point of any Premier League season, Arsenal is in a great position if they can only hold their nerve.
Three of the four from that list went on to win the title. Can the Gunners join that esteemed group?
Having not won a title since 2004, they are a sleeping giant waiting to take home the gold. Arsenal can only hope they don’t suffer a similar faith to their Texan counterparts in the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys had been on the run reminiscent of teams of old, even looking like a formidable contender for the Super Bowl.
After a convincing showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round, they succumbed to the San Francisco 49ers in a game they should have won.
In fact, if you were to play with the best NFL odds, you’d see the 49ers have the worst odds amongst the remaining teams at +300, showing that if the Cowboys only held their nerve, they could have won.
Chasing history isn’t for everyone. Manchester United have been looking to reignite their winning mentality in the ten years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
They have made progress under Eric ten Hag, but he still has ways to go before catching Arteta’s Arsenal, which was evident in their 3-2 win.
Arteta never won the Premier League during his playing career at Arsenal, but if he can keep his team focused, they could pull off the upset.
What keeps Arsenal’s title charge so electric is that they can rely on the same players every week. While Liverpool and Chelsea have had a stuttering campaign due to numerous players being sidelined, the Gunners have trotted out the same 11 for 91.9% of their matches, making them the most used side in the league.
Only Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus have suffered a long period off the pitch. However, although many thought they would suffer with their starting striker out, Eddie Nketiah has filled in superbly, slotting in some massive goals.
With Martin Ødegaard, Thomas Partey, and William Saliba all being able to stay on the pitch, Arsenal has a spine reminiscent of their old title-challenging squads.
Although they have invested in their team, they don’t have quite the same depth as Manchester City, who could realistically start two completely different 11s that would be world-class.
However, sometimes teams can go on a magical run where their players stay fit for an entire year, like the famous Leicester City, which won the 2016 Premier League.
Many of Arsenal’s players didn’t feature heavily in the World Cup, which could be seen as a benefit if the break in December keeps their players fit for longer. If they can avoid the injury bug until the end of the season, they could be crowned champions.
Beat Manchester City
The Gunners’ clash with Manchester City was meant to happen in October, but a clash in schedule saw it postponed. However, their upcoming matches in 2023 will come relatively close together.
By then, we will have a clearer picture of how the season will pan out. City will likely be their closest challenger; if they can win in one of those games, it will be huge in cementing their lead at the top. Never an easy clash; Arteta will have to prove his side are worthy of being champions in those games.
Not many would have predicted Arsenal would have been in this position at the beginning of the season. However, they are playing the best football at the moment, and it’s no coincidence they’re top.