Join me in the discussion as I begin to analyze the chances of each team in the
Running for the top 4 spot in the premier league.
With Arsenal signing Ozil, Spurs signing 7 key players, Liverpool starting strong and a change in the managerial department for Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, this season promises to be best the premier league as ever witnessed. So, who will finish in the top 4?
First Edition: ARSENAL
Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has never failed to reach the champions league places, finishing in the top 4 throughout his tenure at the club. Last season was the closest ever the French man came to finishing below the top 4 but their record in the second half of the season especially after the champions league away win at Bayern was remarkable as they went undefeated knocking their closest rivals, spurs out of the top 4.
This Season, Arsenal lost their first game at home to Aston villa but have since won 7 matches in all competitions as of writing this article. The addition of £42.5 million ($68.2 million) German maestro Mesut Ozil has added new life into their campaign and giving fans real hope for the season. Ozil is a world-class player and one of the best number 10’s in the game. His statistics, especially his assists are off the charts. In his 3 seasons at Real Madrid, Ozil made a remarkable 86 assists for club and country, the highest of any footballer in Europe. His presence will relieve much of the creation from Carzola, who was switched to the wings sometime last season as opposition teams where marking him out of the game and he was rendered ineffective. In periods last season, Carzola struggled and the team found themselves below the top 4 playing catch up. Wenger decided to play Rosicky through the middle and Arsenal found some momentum. Arsenal have also added Flamini (free), Viviano (loan) and young striker Sanogo (free) from Auxerre. Flamini’s transfer was a shock for most arsenal fans as they were linked with the likes of Capoue (now at Spurs), Kondogbia (now at Monaco), Cabaye (Newcastle) and Gustavo (now at W.bremen) for most of the summer but after impressing in the north London derby vs spurs, he seems to be the player arsenal have been lacking for a time now: a destroyer and a tenacious leader on and off the field, Flamini will add steel to the midfield until Arteta recovers from injury. Presumably, Arteta will start ahead of Flamini as Arteta has built a steady partnership with Wilshere in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield but with the way Flamini is playing currently, it will be hard for Arteta to take his place. I don’t know much about the Viviano and Sanogo but they were signed more as squad players and would be called upon when the club is really short in numbers.
Aaron Ramsey has been a revelation so far this season, he seems a different player to the one that got a lot of stick for his abysmal displays in an arsenal shirt. One noticeable improvement this season has been his finishing. Last season, Ramsey managed 2 goals all season, this year; he has surpassed his previous record scoring 7 in 8 matches so far this season. He has improved his all round play and credit must go to Arsene Wenger for believing in him when others didn’t. Another arsenal player who is in top form is Giroud, like Ramsey, Giroud got a lot of stick for his lack of goals and contribution to the team even though he scored 17 goals in all competitions, which is a good return for his first season at the club. Having lost Van persie last season and signed Giroud as his replacement, expectations were high for the forward to produce the same goals return as his predecessor, which was never going to be the case. He has so far improved and with a year under his belt, he now understands the demands and requirements of the premier league and his teammates. Will they continue to show the same performances as we’ve seen so far? Only time will tell.
Personally, I don’t see arsenal finishing outside the top 4, as they seem to always find a way to defeat the odds and cement their position season after season. I have my doubts about them winning the premier league as they have shown in the past that when things turn sour they crumble and their performance levels don’t quite hit the heights reached earlier in the season. A perfect example is in the 2007/2008 premier league season when Arsenal were first and looking likely to finish the season with their first trophy in 3 years (now its 9 years), they faced a stubborn Birmingham side battling relegation. 8 minutes in to the game, Eduardo suffered a horrific injury to his leg, which ended his season and Arsenal’s title hopes, as they never recovered, ending up in 3rd place. That is by far arsenal’s best season in recent times. The collapse was incredible, as the injury seemed to affect every one in the club. They lost their way and have not competed for the title since. Coming back to players, I don’t believe Szczesny is good enough for a team trying to win the league, sure he is the best keeper the club has had since Lehmann but I think he is too error-prone and doesn’t have a good command of his area. Arsenal’s defenders are also error-prone and they tend to concede a lot of goals for a team that’s challenging for the title. Arsenal has so far conceded 4 penalties; all of which could have been avoided and it’s a cause for concern in the long run.
If Arsenal get a better keeper, one who is capable of pulling off great saves and has good command of his area and also get a prolific goal scorer (jury is still out on Giroud) then I see no reason why they can’t win the title or any trophy in the future. Till then, they will continue to be off the title challengers come season’s end.
– Squad depth- Once everyone is back and fit, arsenal has a reasonable strong squad.
– Arsene Wenger- one of the best managers in the world.
– Mesut Ozil- Arguably the most creative midfielder in the world. Expect him to set the Premier league alight.
– Injury proneness-too many arsenal players are prone to injuries (Diaby anyone?)
– Lack of leadership- no one in the dressing room has the ability to wake the team up when things aren’t going their way or they are in a slump. Flamini should remedy this to some extent.
– Szczesny- the 23 year old polish keeper is not the finished article and he is prone to errors in judgment at key times during the season
IMAGE CREDIT: 1080, David Holt
– Nora Annan