15 Games In: Can Arsenal Win The Premier League?

There’s no doubt that this is one of the craziest Premier League seasons in a long time.

And despite Arsenal’s form being hit and miss recently, including costly defeats to Newcastle and Spurs, we still currently sit 2nd in the form table behind Manchester United.

Last 6 games, points from a possible 18:

1. Manchester United (14) 4 Wins, 2 Draws
2. Arsenal (12) 4 Wins, 2 Defeats
3. Bolton Wanderers (11) 3 Wins, 2 Draws, 1 Defeat
4. Tottenham Hotspur (10) 3 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Defeats
= Stoke City (10) 3 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Defeats
= Liverpool (10) 3 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Defeats
7. Manchester City (9) 2 Wins, 3 Draws, 1 Defeat

13. Chelsea (7) 2 Wins, 1 Draw, 3 Defeats

Manchester United are top of the league with 31 points, we’re third on goal difference with Chelsea on 29 and have 3 points on Manchester City, and 4 on Tottenham.

Would we have taken that at the start of the season?

Of course we would.

Before the North London Derby, I posted that Arsenal need to take advantage of Chelsea and United’s respective problems. Arsenal had the perfect motivation to win that game, which was to beat their fiercest rivals and get to the top of the league. I said that if Arsenal couldn’t win that game then they don’t deserve to win the league.

And it’s clear that the same questions year in year out still remain.

Do Arsenal have a world class goalkeeper capable of helping Arsenal win the league? How come we lack that “mental strength” Arsene keeps talking about and throw away leads?

More importantly, can this Arsenal team learn from their mistakes?

There’s no doubt that this Arsenal side are talented enough and maturing at the right time.

Samir Nasri is finally putting in the brilliant performances we expect of him. Chamakh has been fantastic this season, scoring goals and I’ve been impressed how quickly he has settled into the Arsenal team. His finishing has been slightly erratic at times but his work-rate is first class and he still manages to score important goals.

Fabregas has still been performing despite having injury problems, Rosicky looks like he is coming back to full fitness and form, Wilshire has been brilliant so far this season and Fabianski is finally winning fans amongst the Arsenal faithful.

Song is still a subject of debate with the Arsenal fans, but personally I think he has been excellent this season.

And now to the defence.

I still maintain that Arsenal’s collapse against Spurs could have been avoided if Djourou had been playing. He was immense against Wolves and Everton and I was at Goodison Park and was extremely impressed with his performance. He has fantastic positioning and seems to be in the right place at the right time – he intercepts so many important balls, he is solid in the air and has strength and pace. In my opinion he is a much more solid option than Koscielny.

We’re just going to have to accept that the crossing of Sagna and Clichy isn’t going to get better, although Sagna did put in a great ball for Chamakh against Villa which forced a fantastic save from Brad Friedel, and Clichy did provide the cross for Song’s winning goal against West Ham.

The frustrating thing is Arsenal are capable of lifting the Premier League trophy come May. But how many times have we said that over the last 5 seasons?

The games against the Top Five will be key. We’ve already drawn against Liverpool away, beaten Manchester City and lost against Spurs and Chelsea, but still sit 3rd in the league. We have Chelsea and Manchester United in December and providing we can stay within touching distance going into Christmas, those games are going to be real 6 pointers.

I’ve always said that you can tell whether Arsenal have title credentials 10 games into the season, but we’re 15 games in and I still have no idea.

Chelsea are struggling without John Terry, Frank Lampard and their good luck charm Ray Wilkins, but I can’t see them struggling for much longer. I saw snippets of their matches against Newcastle and Birmingham, and you could say that they were unlucky in both games. Ben Foster had one of the best games of his career to keep a clean sheet and against Newcastle they had a lot of possession but couldn’t make it count – they didn’t play badly in either match.

Manchester United have taken a couple of months to find their feet but a 7-0 demolition of Blackburn Rovers will kick-start their season, and unfortunately probably Berbatov’s as well – and they have a fully fit Wayne Rooney yet to find his form as well. Once United get into full flow they will be the team to catch.

Liverpool and Spurs will be there or thereabouts and while Arsenal, Chelsea and United have been inconsistent these two teams are even more so. The same goes for Manchester City, who seem to perform in the big games but lack motivation in the smaller ones.

So that leaves Arsenal. Can we do it?

Yes, of course we can. Players like Nasri are playing their best football for a good few years now. Our squad is stronger than it has ever been and you feel that injuries to Fabregas won’t severely affect the team like it used to in the past.

Chamakh gives us that edge up front and Van Persie and Bendtner haven’t even completely returned to first team football yet. Wilshire is holding his own in midfield, Song is always improving and hopefully Rosicky and Arshavin can push on from last season.

Will we do it?

Yes, I believe.

But what do you think? Do Arsenal have what it takes this season or are we destined for another Top Four finish?

Arsenal Need To Take Advantage

You don’t need me to tell you how massive today’s North London Derby is.

A good performance and result will put us top of the league, for a few hours at least, until Chelsea visit Birmingham later on today.

But now is the time Arsenal need to go on a big run. Manchester United have stuttered recently, and they had the whole “will he won’t he leave” drama with Wayne Rooney. And Chelsea have also struggled in recent weeks, with the Ray Wilkins departure and with John Terry and Frank Lampard injured. And of course, Didier Drogba has been suffering with a bout of Malaria.

But the fact is these problems aren’t going to last forever. Lampard and Terry are reportedly back in action within a matter of weeks, and Manchester United won’t be struggling for much longer.

So the Winter period is going to be huge in determining whether we’re true title contenders or the great pretenders.

Today’s game with the old enemy is an interesting one and tough to call. It’s common knowledge that Spurs haven’t beaten any of the Top 4 clubs for 16 seasons, and most “experts” are fancying Arsenal to take all 3 points.

But Arsenal fans know it’s not always that straight-forward.

With their atrocious record, Spurs have absolutely nothing to lose. They can go for it and that is dangerous. And despite the fantastic character we’ve show away this season – we have the best away record in the league – we’ve grossly under-performed at home against West Brom and Newcastle, games that with all due respect we shouldn’t be losing at The Emirates.

The obvious threats are Van Der Vaart, Bale and Modric. A concern I have is that Djourou has been put on the bench, replaced by the returning Koscielny. Djourou has been fantastic this season and I was impressed with him against Wolves and Everton. I was actually at Goodison Park last weekend and he has that great ability to be in the right place at the right time. He intercepts so many balls which Koscielny hasn’t picked up yet. I am very disappointed he has been dropped, especially when he’s been playing so well. The defence as a whole looks more secure when he’s in the side.

On the plus side, Arsenal have to perform today. If the the motivation of being top of the table and playing against Spurs isn’t enough for the team to put in one hell of a performance then the fact is that we’re not a team that is capable of fighting for the Premier League Title.

Back From Goodison Park, What A Perfect Weekend!

Everton (1) – (2) Arsenal
Sagna (36′), Fabregas (48′)
Goodison Park, Liverpool

Just managed to get home from travelling back from Goodison Park, and it’s funny how the journey home is a lot better when you’ve secured a decent win.

And today finished off a perfect weekend for Arsenal.

Chelsea lost against Sunderland 3-0 at home, which I couldn’t believe, Manchester United drew against Aston Villa and Manchester City drew against Birmingham.

Which means that Arsenal are second in the league, only 2 points behind Champions Chelsea. You couldn’t have asked for anything better than that.

Strange as it sounds, it’s hard to analyse a game when you’re in the stands but what was clear was that Fabianski had another great game. In the last 20 minutes or so he was called upon to make some top saves which in the end proved to be decisive.

I also have to mention Johan Djourou. He was just immense. Virtually every ball that Everton played up the pitch was won by the Swiss defender and he has that uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. It’s no co-incidence that against Wolves and Everton, we’ve looked more solid defensively.

Arshavin looked sharp in the opening half an hour, having a couple of decent efforts from range. Nasri and Sagna linked up really well (with Song helping out on the right side) and most of the attacks were coming from that side of the pitch. So it was no surprise when the goal came.

I think it was Arshavin who coolly pulled the ball back to Sagna who smashed the ball in from close range. Well deserved and Arsenal were dominant in the first half. I was surprised how Arsenal kept Everton relatively subdued, as they are usually quite effective at home.

The home crowd were unusually timid as well – in previous visits to Goodison have always produced a more intimidating atmosphere but today Arsenal kept the home supporters pretty quiet.

Fabregas grabbed the second goal after a well worked move and after that Arsenal had a few chances on the break, with Chamackh missing a sitter from 3 yards out.

As you would expect, Everton went for it in the last 20 minutes and Arsenal did well withstand most of the pressure. Fabianski made some important saves, and the team defended well as a unit. Clichy mainly punted the ball upfield instead of usually “fannying around” with it which was good to see. Most of Everton’s attacks came from Baines on the left and they did have some chances near the end.

But Arsenal were solid and held on for all 3 points.

I know, hardly the most in-depth review of the game you’ll see but I’m happy with the performance and happy with the 3 points. You couldn’t ask for any more really.

Things To Take Away From The Weekend…

  1. Fabianski will always make errors sooner or later.
  2. Arsenal keep getting chances to make ground on Chelsea, but never seem to take them.
  3. Fabregas plays like he wants to be in Barcelona.
  4. The sad fact is we’ll be there or thereabouts, but dropping silly points like Newcastle and West Brom will end up costing us dearly and ultimately mean we won’t win the league.
  5. At home, we are incredibly wasteful. We usually make about 20 chance in a typical home game but only take around 2 or 3 of them.

If you want to add to this list you’re more than welcome.