Can Arsenal prevail in the Premier League title race?

Mikel Arteta may not admit it yet, but Arsenal are firmly in the title chase and they can overcome challenges to lift the Premier League

Eighteen years is a long time to go without winning a title a club once so regularly fought for. Ask Liverpool and the pain of thirty years or more before finally lifting the coveted trophy or Tottenham fans who endure endless misery regarding silverware. Arsenal are on the brink of entering the season’s final stages as the title favourites.

It is unusual for the north Londoners or their fans since moving to the Emirates, but Mikel Arteta has made it happen. The Spanish boss has changed the way fans see their team and instilled belief never seen before in this squad since the invincible season.

At the weekend, Liverpool may have stolen the show with a terrific 7-0 win over Manchester United, but Arsenal were the real entertainer. Not only did they snatch yet another late winner in a game they had to chase, but the Reiss Nelson goal also broke the decibel record at the Emirates, with the stadium bouncing with joy.

The youngest squad and manager in the division had pundits and experts alike have constantly disregarded Arsenal’s ability to lift the title this season. The fact that it has never happened before remains at the forefront of their excuses. But that does not make it impossible.

The Gunners are closer to the title than ever, and Manchester City still trail them by five points. It is not to say Arsenal will become champions for certain. But they have the best chance in over two decades. The road ahead is difficult and even treacherous for this young squad. And with Manchester City looming, they have a challenge.

Arteta’s men have answered all questions and hopefully will continue to leave no stone unturned between now and the end of May. However, we shall look at what lies ahead for the Gunners as they face 12 finals on their way to the Premier League title.

Have Arsenal answered their doubters?

Right from the beginning of the season, the experts have shifted their goalposts about Arsenal. At first, they doubted their ability to continue the impressive start, then questioned whether they could sustain it after the World Cup.

Once those questions were answered comprehensively, the posts shifted to playing those bigger teams like Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City. While the Gunners had a blip against the latter, they have conducted themselves admirably against the other clubs.

Arsenal have the best away record in the league and second best at Home. This season, the Emirates has become a fortress, and Manchester City were the only team to breach them in north London. Despite the squad’s young age, Arteta has made a side capable of handling pressure at the highest levels.

Recent wins over Aston Villa and Bournemouth showed a different side to their game. From a critical point, they need not come to a stage where a late winner must seal three points. However, in those two clashes, Arsenal had to come from behind and secure victories, which is a testament to their character.

The additions of Jorginho and Leandro Trossard showcased the Gunners were not about to repeat the mistake from last season. Those two stars are astute signings that will help them inch closer to the Premier League title.

As we see, continued errors from officials may cost Arsenal the title. The problems with referees, VAR included, have resulted in Arteta’s side losing at least six points this season. That is very high for a club, but the theme is relevant across the league and not restricted to the Gunners.

Beyond that, some tight games ahead will give a clearer picture for Arteta, although they looked equipped to deal with whatever comes their way. As for answering doubters, they have sufficiently replied positively. They will wait on more questions to arrive between now and the end.

Arsenal’s title run-in and who pose a challenge?

Since their loss to Manchester City, Arsenal have won four games on the bounce, as they had to win those clashes. They are also favourites to collect three points against Fulham, Crystal Palace and Leeds United before travelling to Liverpool.

Incidentally, after the demolition of Manchester United at Anfield, Arsenal are the next visitor. Liverpool are overwhelming favourites to win that clash, but the Gunners have shown character earlier in their clash at the Emirates to provide a bit of hope, maybe.

Manchester City will play Liverpool right before Arsenal’s clash at Anfield. The Merseysiders and their chase for a top-four finish could severely affect the title race. The Gunners will hope Pep Guardiola’s side lose points in their clash with Jurgen Klopp’s men and will aim to get something out of Anfield themselves.

Between that match and the end of April, when they face Manchester City at the Etihad, the Gunners have two games against West Ham United and Southampton, which they are favourites for. After that, Arteta’s side are in for a tough run of games facing Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Brighton in quick succession.

Manchester City pose the biggest challenge to Arsenal’s success. Pep Guardiola’s men have the experience fighting these title races for the past four or five years. They have indeed closed down gaps of larger proportions, and the real danger for the Gunners would come from Manchester City’s ability to go on a long winning streak.

At this stage, if Arsenal are safe and manage to keep a healthy lead ahead of Manchester City, they can consider themselves Champions-elect. They should be expected to win over Nottingham Forest and Wolves, which should let them lift the title. However, the road is tough for Arteta, and he should hope to keep momentum and fire up their hunger even more.

Can Arsenal maintain momentum with the current squad?

Arsenal have the youngest squad in the league. And not many people credit them to being favourites due to that. Yet, these young boys have shown plenty of character along the way, especially their trio of 21-year-olds in William Saliba, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

They have the experienced heads of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka marshalling the midfield, while Jorginho is someone who knows what it takes to get through a tricky period. However, the most important players in a title run are Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Those two are the only ones to have realistically tasted Premier League success in this squad. They have already shown to radiate the mentality of champions in this young squad, and their experience will prove vital in the late title run-in.

Zinchenko’s leadership qualities have offset the absence of Jesus since the World Cup. The Ukrainian international is a player Arsenal never had before. And it is a credit to Arteta and Edu for brokering a deal to land him. He and Jesus increasingly feel like a coup, especially for the price they were signed for.

Even Trossard comes in with bags of experience, which would immensely help. As things stand, Arteta does not have a full-strength squad with a few injuries to Trossard and Nketiah, along with the impending return of Jesus. The international break could not come at a better time for Arsenal.

The two-week period will let Arteta re-group and re-energise his pack ahead of the most crucial part of the season. The manager will have Jesus back and others like Emile Smith Rowe will return to full fitness. Barring any late developments, Arsenal should have a full-strength squad for the run-in, and they will be ready to change perceptions.

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