Thursday, March 30, 2023

Time To End The Wait: Why Arsenal Won’t Get A Better Chance Of Winning The League Title

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

There was almost a sense of relief and a weird feeling of change which came to our minds when Arsenal beat Burnley with the last kick of the game at Turf Moor. How many times in the past have we seen a Arsenal side being held at places like these against bottom half teams after producing a wonderful performance in the week before to undo all the good work? This time there is really something different in the team which even the manager accepts but it’s still too early to come to any conclusion.

Arsène Wenger’s men started this season poorly again, losing at home to Liverpool and then dropping points again at Leicester where they couldn’t even score a goal. Then came the run where they won seven of their next eight games in all competitions, winning five consecutive games in the Premier League and climbed up to third in the table just two points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

The team, after a long time, now have brilliant depth in all the positions at the moment with the strength of the squad likely to increase once the players out with injuries return back to full fitness.

For a long time, the Gunners squad had problems in their defensive midfield and in the defence. Last year, with the signing of Petr Cech, the goalkeeping section was fixed while this year with the arrivals of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi, Wenger considerably improved his defensive midfield, central defence and striker positions.

It must be noted that with the emergence of Francis Coquelin, Arsenal found a capable midfield destroyer much earlier but with Xhaka there’s the added quality of having someone with the ability to create chances from the deep, something Coquelin can’t. The addition of Perez also brings in some much needed pace upfront.

Summer signing Mustafi has been settling in nicely so far after a couple of mediocre games as he now looks increasingly like the real deal, one who can bully the strikers and can stand up to the physical battles, not the other way around.

Celebrating twenty years in charge of Arsenal, Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger arrives for the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Arsenal at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on October 2, 2016. / AFP / Lindsey PARNABY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Burnley was a very good test where defensively the team excelled in keeping their concentration at the back. The battle between the physical Sam Vokes with Mustafi can be the first litmus test which proved that the German has that steel required as he came out on top from that battle.

The game management now seems better because the people involved have improved. The only issue which still remains now is the choice of centre forward used against teams defending with a high line and a low line. Sanchez has done brilliantly when afforded the space to run into but has been neutralized against low blocks and against tall, quality centre backs which shows that there’s still need for someone like an Olivier Giroud who is excellent in those situations and also provides the presence needed inside the penalty area.

The important thing from Arsène Wenger and Arsenal’s point of view is that, he now has the options in his ranks to successfully tackle the problems which have derailed Arsenal’s title challenges in the past and with a big squad, injured players can be replaced as well without disrupting the tempo.

The only challenge now is to be able to fully utilise the advantages, attaining consistency. It is true that this year is going to be the toughest ever to compete for the title but at the same time it is also true that this year, Arsenal are the most equipped as they have ever been in the last 10 years, to go into the battle feeling genuinely confident about coming out on top. The potential and provisions are already there, the only thing required now is the performance.

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