Can Arsenal be a part of the title race? What could be areas of concern for Arsene Wenger?
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on September 30, 2016
For the past decade or so, Arsenal have always been in and around the top 4, seemingly challenging for the title and at times coming so very close but landing a champions league position in 2nd,3rd or 4th. In all that time, Great managers have come and gone, great teams have won the title and dominated the English football landscape and yet Arsene Wenger’s gunners have always found a way to compete, The expectation last year was to give it a proper go at the title and yet they ultimately finished 2nd and while that looks good on paper, the expectations weren’t met and this season, it’s a question of beating the new tough competition from fellow teams, Can they do it?
It has certainly been quite some time since the premier league has had so many world class managers to name in its roster, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pocchettino to name a few, it is amazing how much quality the top teams have now and Wenger will certainly have to up the game to get the better of these teams as the season progresses. It was expected that Arsene would spend well to boost the squad to make sure they don’t play catch up with their rivals. The business came late in the window for Arsenal as they signed up Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding early in the window and then late in the window, signed La Liga duo Lucas Perez from Deportivo La Coruna and Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia CF. Only time will tell if Arsene has strengthened his squad well enough and invested well enough in his team.
The most important question right now for the gunners would be, if their attacking flair would be good enough to challenge their rivals in the race for the title once again? And what kind of a role would they be playing in the title race, now that their rivals have spent big and brought in big names to their squads and managements, it should be interesting to see how Arsenal deal with the changing scenario this time around in the premier league.
CONSISTENCY AND STABILITY BOTH VITAL FACTORS
In the early weeks of August before the season began, Arsene Wenger spoke about how consistency will be vital in Arsenal’s finish this season and how the new balance of power amongst almost all the teams in the premier league could favour the gunners.
The Frenchman couldn’t be more right. In recent years, Arsenal have always seemed to be challenging for the the title and every year, the gunners hit a poor run in form, important players facing long term injuries in crucial parts of the season, such factors consequently lead to their downfall in form and eventually landing a champions league place, which is something of a repeating trend for the past decade or so, ever since they won the title with the Invincibles in 2004, the expectations have always been there, its only a question of whether the players can deliever or not.
The 2016/17 started on a low mood for the gunners as they fell to 4-3 opening day loss to Liverpool in an entertaining match for all to see, after which was a stalemate with the defending champions Leicester City and then the season finally got going for them as they racked up 4 consecutive victories in the league alone, the latest of which, was the superb performance against the Blues of Chelsea in a 3-0 victory. While in the UEFA Champions League they kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw against PSG and in the league cup, hammered 4 goals past Championship club Nottingham Forest.
Its fair to say that the form so far has been decent, but improving with each game is something Arsenal will want to do, there is really no doubt that they are one of the best attacking teams in the league, their build up play at times is simply amazing which is a huge credit to the plethora of talent in their midfield and attack, the likes of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla providing the creative inspiration and the pacy attackers Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott benefiting hugely from the talent surrounding them.
The emergence of Frances Coquelin and Alex Iwobi as regular starters has been very good to see. A few seasons ago, the frenchman was on the fringes of the squad, but one phone call from Wenger has changed the player’s life and now he is in charge of all the dirty work in midfield, something that he certainly likes to do. Iwobi started off last season and has gotten better and better with time and is now one of the starting players in the team, which is a huge credit to the youngsters ability and his determination to play for his club, but at the same time, Wenger will surely understand not to put too much pressure on the youngster and give him his rest when he needs it.
Jack Wilshere’s progress at AFC Bournemouth will be vital for the Englishman’s future at Arsenal, clearly Arsene wants to keep a close eye on him and therefore did not choose to send him abroad, He has had to endure years of injury and inconsistency, one can only hope that he finally delivers on his talents.
FINDING THE BALANCE
There really is no question that Arsenal possess some of the best midfielders in the league in their ranks, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Cazorla, Ozil, Coquelin, Walcott , Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez. Such talent in the team is a very tempting prospect and for Wenger it certainly must be a delight to watch these players click together when they play. With the good form that Coquelin has shown so far, he has managed to keep new boy Xhaka on the bench, but how long will the Swiss national be patient, he has after all been bought to the club for a reason and not to just to sit on the bench and await his chances. So it will certainly be interesting to see if Wenger changes his system and also how he finds a balance in the team when the whole squad is fit and ready to go.
SANCHEZ HAS TO BE THE MAIN MAN
Alexis Sanchez has already scored 47 goals in his first 100 games for the gunners, the man is a tireless attacker, very quick, very intelligent and as his stats show, he has an eye for a goal, and if he isn’t already making it clear, the Chilean can be the focal point of their attack and can be the main man for the gunners this season. His understanding with Ozil, Iwobi and the rest of the Arsenal attack has become almost telepathic as is seen in recent games and that makes for all the more reason to make the Chilean the front man in Wenger’s attack.
Olivier Giroud is a fine target man as well, him and Alexis are different types of players, while Giroud is the expert at hold-up play and bringing fellow attackers into the game, his Chilean teammate is one who moves with the team and attacks without any fear, which is what makes him such a dangerous prospect to face for opposing defences. Lucas Perez did well in La liga last year and scored plenty of goals with Deportivo La Coruna, and his good form was rewarded with a move to the gunners, but it is clear to all that he has been brought into the club to provide backup to Sanchez and Giroud, there is little doubt of his goalscoring ability and the reality is that he will have to prove his quality in the smaller games, the cup games. Danny Welbeck has been in an unfortunate situation himself, battling a long term injury, although before his injury, the England international gave Arsenal a different outlet, a different kind of challenge to defences and which is why his return to the side is all the more important.
If Arsenal can keep their flair-ful football up and find the required consistency, there is no doubt that Arsenal can be one of the leading teams in the title race. It is a question of improving against the big teams and to try and win games with style or no style and just getting the job done. Arsene Wenger will hope to avoid any injury concerns and also that his influential players keep performing week in and week out.