Thursday, 5 September 2013

What can Arsenal achieve in the Premier League this season?

The signing of Mesut Ozil has sent a sudden surge of excitement shuddering around Arsenal football club. The gloomy, pessimistic nature of the mood previous to last weekend has been lifted quite significantly, with many fans branding it the most exciting signing Arsenal have made since Dennis Bergkamp. So the question is: what does this mean Arsenal can achieve this season?

Are we merely contenders for the top four or are we now title challengers? The January transfer window will be a factor in this, the marquee signing of Ozil will help attract other big name players should be stay in the Champions League until then. Therefore if Arsenal manage to lure a Suarez or a Rooney or even a Bender in winter then that could push Arsenal more into the territory of serious title contenders.

But for now I think we are hovering between the two. I think the side has improved from last season (when we finished 4th) whereas whilst Tottenham have spent big this summer, they have lost their best player and replaced him with unproven players in the Premier League in Lamela and Eriksen. A lot depends on how these signings start off, will Ozil hit the ground running? Will Lamela take a few months to settle? I think both North London clubs have improved this season but Arsenal are still better.

Additionally, the gulf between those 2 clubs and the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea is very small. Jose Mourinho branded Arsenal “title contenders” after we signed Ozil and when you compare his Chelsea side to Arsenal’s there’s very little difference in quality. An attacking midfield trio of Walcott, Ozil and Cazorla would rival any other team in Europe and Olivier Giroud is showing signs of significant improvement and has started the season on form.

However Arsenal’s lack of strengthening in the centre forward position could be what holds us back, if Giroud gets injured we could struggle for goals and a game with a plan B. Man City probably have the strongest squad, Chelsea and Arsenal’s are very similar and close and Man Utd I’d say at the moment are possibly 4th or 5th in the league in terms of quality of squad. Fellaini is a good addition but without Alex Ferguson still around to compensate for one of their weakest squads in 20 years, it’s hard to see them winning the league.

All 5 teams are very close in terms of quality in my opinion. Tottenham lack a bit of experience, Arsenal lack strength in depth in some areas and Chelsea might lack a regular goal scorer. Arsenal however last season showed a new quality in terms of grinding out wins. The team went on a great late season run that involved very few attractive performances but a lot of tight wins grinded out with resilience, know-how and defensive solidity. Not attributes you’d have associated with Arsenal over the last few years.

Therefore with our new found ability to grind out wins and the added world class quality of Ozil will prove Arsenal to be much improved from last season in my opinion. I also think the signing of Flamini is a very good one, he showed on Sunday his leadership, ability to protect the back four and ball winning qualities. He has a lot of experience and will prove to be a good signing this season. I cannot understand why that signing has been mocked more than anything, he was excellent before he moved the AC Milan a few seasons ago for Arsenal and showed on Sunday he doesn’t seem to have lost anything. He’s only 29 so he’s not over the hill and I think if someone like Ferguson or Mourinho had signed him they’d be praised for a “shrewd signing”.

So basically I think we’re still one or two players short of being able to win the league but we are outsiders with the current squad we have. If we are really unfortunate with injuries and key players like Wilshere, Giroud and Walcott suffer long spells on the sidelines, we could fail to finish in the top four. The line is that fine this season. Keep everyone fit and we can win the league, especially if we add well in January. I don’t think anyone has a significantly better first 11 than us, nor really a significantly better squad. Man City probably have the best and then the other 4 are really close.

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