Stone Cold Friday: 8 Reasons Why Arsenal Can Win The Title
It’s Friday, it’s five to five, it’s…oh, no that was Crackerjack. You’ve got the short straw; here’s Darius…
Arsene Wenger was laughed out of TV and radio studios and ridiculed in news columns when he suggested at the end of November that Arsenal were still in the title race and Chelsea would drop points. The contempt and disdain shown toward Wenger for even thinking that the presumed Juggernaut from the Kings Road would falter, was matched with the arrogance of Chelsea’s premature coronation as champions.
A month is a long time in football; humble pie is an effective leveller. Here’s my 8 reasons why I believe Arsenal can win the title this season:
1. The strength and depth of our Squad
There is a perception that Arsenal’s squad injury-riven cannot cope with the demands of challenging for any trophies. An objective look at their achievements despite the injury crisis totally discredits this misguided view. Even with the current 9 players frequenting our medical facility, the squad has coped admirably with an unforgiving league.
Often, excuses are rolled out to explain how injuries have affected the performances of other top sides, but very little mention that Arsenal has had its fair share of medium and long term injuries, but we’re still defiantly sitting at the high table. Traore, Our 3rd choice left back for example is challenging anyone to call him a 3rd choice anything and is absolutely holding his own, it’s hardly noticeable that we’re missing Clichy or Gibbs.
For most, it’s easier to complain about how injuries are affecting us and how we need to buy reinforcements, but few rarely stop to consider that it is indeed our strength and depth that is sustaining us well thus far.
2. We’re the most lethal striking force in Europe
69 goals in 29 games in all competitions from 18 different players. That’s an average of 2.38 goals a game and still maintaining that lethal edge without our preferred talisman. Enough said.
3. Solid foundation and Financial stability
Manchester United – £699m in debt and rising with an operating loss of £45m; Chelsea – £700m debt (half masked as equity and Abramovich flushing the rest down the drain as a loss), and still with operating losses of £69m; Liverpool – £300m and counting while the gloss fades away on the pitch; Manchester City – £90m operating losses even with their filthy rich owners making the £400m investment so far disappear from the liability column into the equity column on the balance sheet. Need I go on?
In the era of brazen ‘cheque book’ management where profligacy is a fashion statement and prudency is seen as a virus, Arsenal stands head and shoulders above all elite clubs. Our financial stability and management model is the envy of most clubs who are now scrambling to emulate us.
We have a solid platform to build and maintain success for the new decade and beyond. And as Colombo would characteristically say – ‘Oh, one more thing’, we actually make a tidy profit.
4. We’re a much better team than we were last year
This time last season, we had clocked 30 points from 19 games with a goal difference of +4. This season at the midpoint, we have 41 points after 19 games with a goal difference of +30. Do the math.
5. Our players are a year older and more experienced
In an era where experience is misguidedly measured by a transfer value, name or reputation, little regard is given to the growth and personal development of individual players. Much less attention is paid to the collective growth made by a team that has been playing together and learning through the difficult experiences of each campaign. One of Arsenal’s biggest strengths this far has been the fact that people haven’t seen this team coming.
The ’youth’ label so often associated with Arsenal has provided a false sense of security to many of our competitors and non-admirers in the establishment. The folly of thinking that youth equals inexperience is catching up with them.
6. We have arguably the most effective midfield unit
Whether it’s the dynamism or creativity of our midfield, or whether it’s the fact that 43% of our goals in the league have come from the midfield, you’d have a job on your hands arguing against the effectiveness of Arsenal’s midfield unit.
This isn’t just about the individual brilliance of Fabregas, or the industry of Denilson, or the solidity and reliability of Alex Song or the presence and power of Diaby. As a unit both in defence and offence, our midfield works together as a well oiled and efficient machine, and they will only get better.
Apart from the plethora of chances the Arsenal midfield weave out, their mastery of transition play from defence to offence is improving with every game, and is the key to our regular dose of Wengerball.
Did I mention that our midfield scores a shed load of goals too?
7. Weakening of Other contenders
One of the chaps from the ’It’s all up for grabs now’ podcast described Wenger as probably the best used car salesman in the land. Wenger has this knack of making sure his player’s legs give way on another manager’s pitch, and very few understood the method in his madness when he let Toure and Adebayor go.
This supposedly weakened Arsenal, despite the acquisition of Arshavin and Vermaelen in 2009. It is plain to see now that Arsenal is a much stronger proposition with the change in personnel.
As for our other 2 title challengers – Manchester United are being found out time and time again as the reality dawns on how they’ve lived on the adrenaline of their previous success and the lesser Ronaldo isn’t around to get them out of jail. The quality of their squad is not as good as it has been in the last 3 years.
As for our neighbours out west, It’s only a matter of time before the legs of the footballing ‘senior citizens’ go at Stamford Bridge. Let’s face it, they aren’t getting any younger, and if you lift the lid off their first team, there is a valid question about the quality beneath. Even the Ivory Coast manager has lambasted Chelsea for treating Drogba like a machine and running him into the ground. What choice do they have?
8. The Home Straight
In a 4 week period at the end of January, we play our nearest adversaries in consecutive games. The momentum we are building towards those games will stand us in good stead. The important thing though, is that once we’ve negotiated those matches, the home straight through the business end of the season favours Arsenal.
With the positive mindset and mental strength, the last 12 games are an opportunity for consistency and points collection. With a bit of luck, we might even do the job at the Lane or when Abu Dhabi City comes into town.
All that remains is the belief within the team and amongst supporters, and the mental strength and determination to carry all of us through to the finishing line.
The players are up for a fight – Are you?
‘til Tomorrow when we may have a football match to look forward to.