By Gbadamosi Adegoke
This is the first time in recent years that Arsenal football club would not only top the league in the first week of a new year but, to the chagrin of their haters, also look like the favorites for the title.
Over the past decade or thereabout, the North London Club had seemed content with earning a place in the UEFA Champions League. Attaining this UCL qualification mark was “trophy” to the manager, board, players (except the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Van Persie and Samy Nasri), and many of the fans who actually feel entitled to the club’s ownership.
Staying relevant locally was enough until recent barrage of criticism from the media and some fans who only desire experiencing the ecstasy of ending a season with the BPL title rather than identifying with the board’s financial prudence and goals. Interestingly, Arsenal FC seems to have turned a new leaf having won the FA Cup in 2013-2014 season and defended it in 2014-2015 season. Things have got even better as the 2015-2016 league title appears achievable. Here are 7 reasons why we believe this year could be Arsenal’s year as far as the EPL is concerned.
- Ozil is the King of Assist
It appears Cesc Fabregas, the king of Assist last season, has abdicated his throne for Mezut Ozil. So far, Ozil has 16 assists, 3 short of the number that got Fabregas the “crown” last year. This has been one of the crucial factors responsible for the club’s leading position thus far and could prove decisive for their title hopes. No doubt, the £40m spent on Ozil a couple of years ago looks to be paying off.
- Wenger is famished
The last time Arsene Wenger won the league was his unbeaten season in 2003-2004. Since that time he has only managed 2 FA Cup titles and that’s in the last two years. We see a famished Wenger today, doing everything possible to ensure that he breaks his 11-year league title drought. He now plays negative football when he has to, do the underdog against sides that seem better and resorts to mind games if need be. The goal is to just get the freaking 3 points. He even makes defensive subs and locks up shop whenever he’s a goal up over his opponents. Now, that’s the way to go for any manager that is determined to win the most competitive league in Europe.
- Defensive Efficiency
It’s been quite a long time since we’ve seen Arsenal this good defensively. Sometimes, I’m marveled at the description of the gunners as the best defensive side thus far in the BPL. Long ago, the club’s gameplay was a joy to watch but one that made them vulnerable at the back. Attacking fluidity was prioritized above a solid defensive base. That’s still quite the situation today. What has changed is the fact that the team is just as proficient going forward as they are defensively. Koscielny is a more ..Per Mertesacker is slow but more effective in reading games and the wing backs can effectively stay full back when necessary. The 4 nil and 2 nil loses to Southampton and Chelsea respectively are shameful but those rare exceptions. Arsenal’s defence this year could be decisive for their title hopes as well as the foregoing highlights.
- The Man Called Peter Cech
When Arsenal bought Peter Cech, John Terry said the goalkeeper alone would guarantee the club 15 points. How true the Chelsea captain was! The 33-year old has not only kept nine clean sheets for his new club, his presence at the goal post is a major factor responsible for Arsenal’s current number one spot on the league table. Take Cech’s incredible performance out and Arsenal could be third on the table.
- Two less Big Teams to Worry About
Last season, Chelsea was beaten only twice out of 38 games, earning them the league title with 87 points. Man City came second with 3 points ahead of Arsenal. Man United were just 5 points behind Arsenal. This year, Chelsea is a rival that has skidded off track and Man U are no real contenders, realistically speaking. That leaves Man City as the gunner’s main rival this season. No disrespect to Leicester City, we’re sure they’ve only done enough to fight for a top 4 finish (which is incredible) rather than the league title.
- Fixture against Barca is Blessing in Disguise
One problem top EPL clubs face is the fact that they actually try to compete with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League. If you watch the English Premier League today, you have to marvel at how top teams have to work extremely hard to get three points off seemingly small sides. Fact is, there hardly a small team in the EPL anymore. Every club that manages to survive relegation get so much money from TV rights that they could spend on building a decent team. This is not the case for other top clubs in Europe as the likes Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich use their league fixtures as training sessions. They are as a result less fagged out as BPL teams. That Barcelona would most likely defeat Arsenal is good news in disguise for their title hopes.
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