Are Arsenal really title contenders?

Are Arsenal really title contenders?

With the Gunners playing Liverpool live on BT Sport, two of our writers debate whether they’re the real deal

Unai Emery’s side face a stern test this weekend when they host Jürgen Klopp’s men in a huge clash at the Emirates Stadium…

Arsenal v Liverpool, Saturday 3 November, 5pm, BT Sport 1/HD (CH 531/527)

After a tough start to the Premier League season, Arsenal have quietly put together an impressive run over the past couple of months. Now the Gunners find themselves near the top of the table as they head into this weekend’s unmissable showdown with Liverpool on BT Sport.

 

There’s no denying that new manager Unai Emery has reinvigorated the team – but can they go all the way this season and actually win the title for the first time since 2004?

 

Here, two of our sports writers argue it out…

 

Can Arsenal win the Premier League?
 

Joe McGuire: YES! It’s an exciting new era for the Gunners
 


Goals! Goals! Goals!

Before the last international break, Arsenal had scored 19 goals in just eight Premier League games, second only to table-topping Manchester City. Encouragingly for head coach Unai Emery, while the forward pairing of Alexandre Lacazette (pictured above) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been fearsome, players further back have also been netting their fair share. The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and Granit Xhaka have all got in on the goalscoring action, demonstrating the kind of strength in depth that’s key for any title-winning side.

 

A new lease of life under Emery

Arsenal’s players look to have taken to Emery’s methods like a team of talented ducks to, um, challenging Spanish waters. The Gunners’ new coach has certainly galvanised his squad, giving them an intensity not shown by those in red and white for quite some time. Fans have seen the team improving with each and every match, so it appears Emery’s revolution is happening sooner rather than later.

 

They’ve rectified their one big weakness

After bruising defeats to City and Chelsea in their opening two games, it’s fair to say that Arsenal’s run of fixtures has been favourable. That said, their near-faultless run of form has revealed a key area of improvement since Arsène Wenger’s departure: Arsenal are now blowing away teams further down the table rather than limply dropping points. Points make prizes, and the team’s incredible form since the end of August – bolstered by further wins in the Carabao Cup and Europa League – has given them a very solid foundation to build on.

 


Jack Prescott:
NO! It’s too early to get carried away
 


Emery is yet to experience The Crunch

Hats off to Arsenal’s new manager. Following a dreary end to Wenger’s reign, the slick Spaniard has brought an effervescence back to the Emirates. However, questions remain over his ability to handle the white heat of a Premier League run-in. Come to think of it, the bulk of Arsenal’s players are just as unfamiliar with what it takes to win a title in a top league. So for all their current swagger, don’t be surprised if it falls to pieces during the second half of the campaign.

 

They still struggle against the big boys

Kicking off the season with lame defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea was not a good look for Arsenal. Sure, they’ve gained bags of confidence since then by thrashing some average opposition, but losing to the Premier League’s top sides remains an issue. And don’t even think about blaming those early defeats on the players getting used to a new manager. Consistently failing to land serious blows on their top-six rivals is a psychological shortcoming that runs throughout the squad – and has done since the Wenger era.

 

Call that a title-winning defence?

Arsenal’s back line isn’t exactly oozing with reliability. There is some talent in there – and they’ve kept plenty of clean sheets this term – but you look at the squad and it’s all a bit meh. Rob Holding? Shkodran Mustafi? Sokratis Papastathopoulos? It’s not exactly Keown, Adams and Campbell. Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” This Arsenal defence is many things, but it’s definitely not filled with winners.

 

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