Will Arsenal be title challengers until the end?
The first half of the season is drawing to an end and so far Gooners have precious little to be irked about. Whilst it seemed like the football Gods (and the football odds) were against us at the start of the season we’ve overcome injury and uncertainty to be in a strong position going into the New Year.
Before the season kicked off we were rated at 8/1 for the title this season and so far we’ve more than held our own with a win against Chelsea balancing out slightly disappointing results against Sp*rs and Manchester United. If we can pick up a couple more wins before the close of the year then we’ll be in an even better position.
So far we’ve seen few truly disappointing results in the league with only the loss to Liverpool and the goalless draw against Middlesbrough being let downs. There are plenty of chances for us to slip up in the back half of the season but if we can build on the ruthlessness seen in recent games we should end it with a trophy. We’re still in 3 competitions and with other sides slipping up we can step in and take advantage.
For the sake of clarity here are the football odds for the 3 competitions we remain in:
The Premier League: 13/2
FA Cup: 8/1
Champions League: 20/1
How realistic are those odds though? We’re in second place behind Chelsea, have achieved decent results against the clubs around us and will soon face a weakened Manchester City side to pull away from the pack a bit and start making this a two horse race. It also helps that we have the best player in the league.
Alexis Sanchez has notched 11 league goals and made a further 4 assists this season so it’s existentially vital to our season that he remains fit. Gooners had their stomachs twisted in all sorts of knots when Atom and Humber’s dad went away with Chile and played through injury. Thankfully he came through unscathed and is still scoring the goals to win us matches.
Sanchez and Özil are the heartbeat of this club right now and the board needs to step up and tie them down for the best years of their career. If these guys stay on form we have a great chance of winning the league.
What about the FA Cup? We’ve been given a favourable third round tie and once again this is a winnable competition for Wenger’s side. It’s too early to predict how we’ll do and as it’s probably the least of our priorities how we approach the latter stages depends entirely on our chances in other competitions.
The Champions League will take priority over the FA Cup which will cause consternation with some. European competition is clearly the more prestigious but many understandably feel we should prioritise trophies we have the best chance of winning. We’ve finished top in our group but it’s just our luck that the draw for group winners looks just as tricky as it would have been had we finished second. Let’s see who we get before making any strong predictions. This is a winnable competition but it’s all down to the draw.
This could very well be Wenger’s last season at the club and if anyone deserves to go out with a big trophy under his belt it is him.
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