Most experts or pundits say that after 10 games of the season you can judge a team on how well they’re going to do that season. After 10 games of this season, Arsenal were first in the table with 25 points. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were 5 points behind in 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and Manchester City were in 5th position on 19 points.
Now we have reached 22 games and where are Arsenal? Still top.
But despite this, most people still think that the title is going to Manchester City or Chelsea.
Liverpool and Tottenham have dropped off since then, while Manchester City and Chelsea are only within 2 points of Arsenal.
We have lost the 5 point lead we had earlier in the season but every time we’ve needed to win to stay top, we have. Manchester City are raving about scoring 100 goals this season, but the fact of the matter is you still only get 3 points for a win in the Premier League.
Arsenal are sitting top of the Premier League after 22 games, and that’s with a lot of injury problems on the way. Manchester City have spent obscene money and have squad which is probably cost 5 or 6 times more than ours did to assemble. Chelsea have spent a lot of money as well and this season alone, we’ve lost many key players. Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo, Rosicky, Podolski, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs, Sagna, Mertesacker, Özil, Giroud and Bendtner have all missed games due to illness or injury.
And we’re still top!
I’m not sure what else we can do to be considered “serious” title challengers.
We’ve won games when we haven’t played well, we’ve played some scintillating football this season, we’ve had a solid defensive attitude and reduced the number of goals we concede over the last 12 months, and scored goals from all over the pitch.
Szczesny has been the best goalkeeper in the league this season, we have a good mix of experienced and young players, and our best player Mesut Özil is currently playing okay but still has a few more gears to get through to reach his peak – and that only has to be a good thing going into the second half of the season.
So what negatives are there?
The only one I can think of is our “record” against the top sides. We beat Liverpool and Tottenham already this season, drew against Everton and Chelsea but lost to Manchester City and Manchester United. The only grumble I have out of those 6 matches were the games in Manchester.
Against Liverpool and Tottenham we got our game plan right and played a high tempo game which got us the 3 points. Everton were fortunate to nick a point and Chelsea parked the bus. But against Manchester United, we were to cautious and should have really taken the game to them. And against free-scoring Manchester City, we probably should have played a similar system to the one in Dortmund and tried to steal the game on the counter-attack.
With only a one point lead at the top, I suppose it will be the remaining games against the top sides which could prove decisive.
But then again, we seem to be the only team who have a consistent record against the rest of the league, so in the end that may be enough.