Friday, December 19, 2014

Arsenal Can Win The Title This Year

Arsenal fans are the happiest fans come the end of May every year. They go through a roller coaster ride which is more gut-churning than any you will find during the course of the season. In a bizarre turn of events, which seem to unfold every season, Arsenal fade away in the title race during the festive months of December and January. The resurgence from mid-table to the top four is what makes the season ending games that much more thrilling for the fans around the Emirates.

Unsurprisingly though, Arsene Wenger, one of the most experienced managers in the world, always manages to pull off the con. When it seems like they are destined to a mid-table finish, gooners around the world re-adjust their ambitions to a top four finish. Wenger then comes good on his promise, as he should given his caliber, and steers the club into the Champions League by the skins of their teeth.

The fourth place trophy

Arsenal have been tagged the perennial fourth place finishers by experts and fans in the league this past decade. While that can be misconstrued as a lack of ambition on the manager’s part, one does not factor in his parallel achievements. Wenger’s stinginess during the transfer market has proven to be a two fold blessing for the club. Firstly, it has resulted in Arsenal having the second highest financial turnover in the league. This is an impressive achievement considering the current state of the economy and the debt-ridden stories of fellow premier league clubs. Commercial revenues have climbed up 67% and Champions league qualification accounting for an additional £25 million.

Secondly, Wenger’s refusal to splurge for big players has given the youth a chance to shine on the premier league stage. The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin and Yaya Sanogo have all made their presence significantly felt in Arsenal’s campaign this year. These youngsters have gone to represent their national teams with the experience gained in the Premier league. The relatively senior products of Wenger’s policy such as Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere need no introduction.

Hector Bellerin is one of the many young prospects at Arsenal

What Arsenal should do differently

Arsenal fans who have backed the club passionately do not see the positives mentioned above as true accolades. The FA cup finally found its way into the cabinet last season but the Premier league still remains elusive. The current season may seem a lost cause with Chelsea moving through their fixtures like a machine and Manchester City using their money-clad warriors to stay close to them. The teams above Arsenal have chinks in their armor which the gunners can look to exploit in their push for better fortunes this year.

Arsenal are currently sixth in the league table with Southampton and West Ham above them. The Saints and Hammers cannot be considered serious top four contenders, Arsenal should be looking at Manchester United who are in third, five points clear of the gunners.

Injuries have been the main for the North London club with Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing the better part of this year’s campaign. This has not deterred the attack in the slightest with Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck causing problems to the league’s best defenses. The expected return of Ozil, Walcott and Ramsey will mean Giroud and Welbeck will have the best midfield in the league servicing him.

Manchester City and Chelsea have shown exceptional attacking prowess this season but have failed to keep clean sheets when expected. Even lowly teams have managed to find a way through their defences. City’s 2-2 draw against QPR and their marginal victories against teams like Leicester show that they are beatable. Chelsea on the other hand exposed their frailties in the 2-1 defeat to Newcastle. If Alan Pardew can do it, so can Arsene Wenger. The 13 point gap to the top may seem titanic at this stage of the season but with 22 games remaining, is it really that big a gap ?

The revival of Arsenal’s midfield along with the hope of no further injuries will propel the gunners up the table. With the likes of Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez and Walcott in the midfield, its safe to say the defenses of City and Chelsea stand no chance. Victories in the fixtures against the top 3 teams – Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United – will put Arsenal in a good position to make its title assault. The top three teams are also likely to slip up against other teams in the league in some juicy upsets which the Premier league never fails to serve up. The experts clearly will blunder if they write Arsenal off.

(Article written by Vidur Kalive. Twitter: @vidurkalive)


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