After the game against Palace on Saturday Arsenal once again came out on top and maintained their position at the top of the table. Arguably Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal have yet to be challenged. The start they have made must not be underestimated with free flowing football being synonymous with their performances. Ozil and Flamini seem to be inspired signings, especially considering the fact that Flamini was free. The two have added a different dimension to a quickly improving Arsenal side. Games against Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Stoke and Norwich are where Arsenal have really excelled but are known as ‘must wins’. Games against Napoli and Tottenham at home and Swansea and West Brom away are generally considered to be slightly more problematic but if Arsenal truly want to start winning trophies again they also need to turn these games into ‘must wins’ too. In the next 5 games Arsenal’s trophy credentials will truly be tested but how will they fare?
Midweek Arsenal host a Chelsea side in the Capital one cup who have the luxury of a 25 man squad that is jam packed with class. Eto, Willian, Mikel, Mata and David Luiz are just some of the names that have failed to make the starting line up in a pivotal game in the early part of the season against Man city. The threat and experience accompanied with the desire to impress Mourinho will make Chelsea a daunting prospect for Arsenal. The policy of youth may again come to fruition but the strength in depth that Chelsea have may be too much for Arsenal. It is likely that Arsene will rest players for this game as it would be considered the easiest and of least importance game of the difficult up and coming fixtures.
Next Saturday Arsenal face a potentially tricky fixture with Liverpool coming to the Emirates. The SAS (Suraez and Sturridge) have formed a formidable partnership; offering a very potent attacking force. Arsenal are also likely to be without Flamini and Arteta. The pair have formed a solid base at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield. The game will be won in midfield with Ramsey and Wilshire probably having to play a more disciplined role in the vacated defensive midfield roles. They will not only have to fend off the likes of Gerrard and Lucas but will also have to watch the threat of debatably the best player in the premier league Luiz Suraez. Nevertheless the game will be undoubtedly be very tight with a single goal more than likely being the means to which the game will be decided.
The return of Dortmund precedes this game! Despite having more possession against them last time out the clinical edge belonged to Dortmund. Theo Walcott may be available for this game and his pace on the counter could be vital. A draw would be considered a good result at the Westfalen Stadion but this may mean that Arsenal will have to rely on other results to get through, particularly if Napoli beat Marseille.
Hopefully buoyed by confidence Arsenal will face a trip to the theatre of dreams on the 10th of November. David Moyes may have had a tough start to his reign at United but he will be filled with confidence with Man united seemingly having a voodoo over Arsenal in recent years at Old Trafford. Since 2004 Arsenal and Man United have competively played each other nine times with Arsenal only coming out on top once in 2006. However the fear factor that once overwhelmed opposition teams going to Old Trafford seems to be disappearing. Unconvincing wins against Stoke and Real Sociedad accompanied with dropping points against West Brom and Southampton has given real hope to opposition teams visiting the once impenetrable fortress. Arsenal not only can take confidence from this but also from the defensive frailties that have been shown at the start of this season. The fluidity of the three behind Giroud could pick holes in the United defensive and could inspire Arsenal to finally break the curse that has hung over Arsenal at Old Trafford in recent times.
Arsenal’s last game, in a line of crucial fixtures, is one that should not be underestimated. Dogged performances at Anfield, Old Trafford and the Hawthorns have left Southampton lying pretty in 5th place only 4 points off Arsenal on top. Whilst boasting the best defensive record having only conceded three goals. The high press implemented by Mauricio Pochettino has taken inspiration from the Pep Guardiola regime at Barcelona and has reaped the benefits. In addition the three signings by Southampton have really hit the ground running and added a resilience down the spine of Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Arsenal’s passing style may have to be sacrificed slightly to avoid the well-rehearsed high press. The slick football displayed by Arsenal at the start of this season should prove too much for Southampton, especially at the Emirates.
If Arsenal can overcome a challenging run of fixtures they may finally be known as true title contenders. If performances at the start of this season are anything to go by anything could happen….