For the neutral, it might be a case of having a proper title race at our door as the current Premier League season continues to unfold. Christmas is just around the corner and with a busy schedule lying ahead, it can be a make-or-break period of games for teams pushing for glory.
This season, we’re witnessing fierce competition among the traditional powerhouses, with Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, and of course Arsenal emerging as the main contenders.
Arsenal’s Journey in the Season
Mikel Arteta has pushed the Gunners into serious contention for the title once again having fallen short towards the end of last season. With a heavy summer of spending improving the overall quality of his starting XI, the Spaniard will be hoping for more consistent performances as December approaches.
Performances on the pitch can still improve with Arsenal grinding some games out and are yet to really assert their dominance throughout the entirety of a game. Sure, there have been convincing wins, such as the 4-0 victory away at Bournemouth and the 5-0 demolition at home to Sheffield United. But they limped over the finish line against Nottingham Forest at the Emirates and dropped leads against Fulham and Spurs.
The loss to Newcastle at St James’ Park-albeit in controversial circumstances-showcased the necessity for better performances, especially when coming up against stubborn sides. Eddie Howe’s side nullified the Arsenal attack for large spells which will serve as a reminder that Premier League titles are not handed out easy.
However, Arteta will be buoyed by the quality of player at his disposal. Declan Rice has been excellent since signing in the summer and has scored pivotal goals against Manchester United and Chelsea, earning the Gunners vital points.
Bukayo Saka is starting to get his sharpness back after picking up a knock against Bournemouth earlier in the season. He picked up an assist against Burnley prior to the international break, taking his tally in the league to eight goal contributions for the season.
However, game management must improve and evolve if the Gunners are to restrict the sloppy, avoidable goals they’ve conceded when dropping points against the likes of Newcastle. Fulham and Chelsea.
Analysis of Main Contenders
The defending champions, Manchester City, are irresistible once again as they set the pace in the league so far. However, they have shown signs of weakness with absence of Rodri from their midfield contributing to bruising back-to-back defeats to Wolves and The Gunners earlier in the campaign. formidable adversaries in the title race.
Jeremy Doku, a summer signing from Rennes is slowly showing many why Guardiola wanted him in his side. The Belgian winger is incredibly gifted at dribbling at opposition defenders and offers City something completely different in attack as they plot alternative routes to supplying Erling Haaland in attack who has 13 league goals for the season. The Norwegian is undoubtedly the key player for City having scored 52 goals in 53 games last season and is already enjoying a productive start to this campaign. Punters are also fancying the Norwegians chances of scoring 35+ again and with 13 so far this season, it could well happen again which will have a huge say in the title race. The Erling Haaland odds from many Irish bookies are starting to shorten already with the striker looking likely to repeat that feat.
Spurs have become a neutrals favourite following the appointment of Ange Postecoglu. Brave in possession, they have continued to win admirers for their full throttle football which has caused some problems.
Their high line in recent defeats to Chelsea and Wolves has been exploited and with injuries to several key players including playmaker James Maddison and defender Micky van de Ven, Postecoglu may have to change his approach if his side are to stay in the race for the title.
Liverpool, a perennial contender in recent years have re-established themselves at the top after a disappointing 2023/24 campaign. The club has undergone a huge makeover, particular in midfield as summer arrivals Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai find their feet in Jurgen Klopp’s “heavy metal” style of play.
Despite this heavy metal persona, Klopp’s side have been more pragmatic, opting to counterattack and be more defensively assured rather than in their opponents faces throughout an entire 90 minutes. This is a factor that could play a significant part in the title race.
Arsenal have yet to lose against the sides in contention for the title, although are yet to face Liverpool.
Arteta’s side beat Manchester City at the Emirates, ending a losing streak that stretched to seven games under the current Head Coach. The three points is huge but only in the season, numerically that can be clawed back. The psychological aspect though could prove for more important as the season progresses.
Manchester City have been a huge hurdle for Arteta and to beat them twice in the matter of months, including the Community Shield could prove important. Drawing 2-2 at home to Spurs though will take the gloss off that win having surrendered a 2-1 lead to their North London rivals.
To make matters worse, Spurs equalised shortly after Saka put Arsenal ahead suggesting certain demons of last season, such as game control and staying calm in big situations, were still lurking in the corner.
Comparing Arsenal’s performance with each of the contenders reveals intriguing dynamics. Arsenal’s victory against Manchester City demonstrated their ability to outclass even the most potent attacking teams. However, the game against Spurs showcased certain frailties that need to be addressed.
Challenges and Opportunities for Arsenal
While Arsenal’s resurgence is undeniably impressive, they face challenges that could impact their title aspirations. Defensive solidity against top-tier attacking teams and consistency throughout the season remain areas of concern.
Capitalising on opportunities presented by the rivals’ potential slip-ups and maintaining their current form will be crucial for Arsenal’s title pursuit. This is something they let slip last season and with Manchester City’s relentless unmatched towards the end of the campaign, the pressure became too much for Arteta’s side.
As the season unfolds, Arsenal finds themselves in a position to challenge for the Premier League title. The journey has been marked by significant victories, tactical brilliance, and the emergence of young talents. While challenges loom on the horizon, the Gunners’ faithful supporters are daring to dream.
The head-to-head clashes with fellow contenders will shape the title race, and Arsenal’s ability to navigate these encounters will be decisive. Winning the title would not only signify a triumphant return to the summit of English football for the North Londoner’s but also herald a new era for a club with a storied history.