8 games, 6 wins, 19 points – top of the league. This has been a remarkable turnaround for Arsenal. After the opening day 3-1 debacle at the hands of Aston Villa at the Emirates, things didn’t look this bright. Fans vented their fury, wrote open letters and trepidation of missing out on the Champions League loomed large. A bleak atmosphere prevailed, albeit temporarily.
But, the signing of Mesut Ozil on the transfer deadline day has changed the scenario altogether. That signing and yes that signing alone is the turning point of Arsenal’s season so far. To be honest, this squad still needs reinforcements in various areas. But, that one signing has galvanized the attitude and body language of the entire team.
Not just because Ozil was signed on a record transfer fee (I mean yes that is also a factor, making statement and all that) but a truly world class player had landed at Arsenal after a long long time. The result is evident. And it cannot be a co-incidence that most of the players have raised their game to a different level all at the same time. Is it because of the German’s impact and influence? Probably, yes.
Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Koscielny, Wilshere, Flamini, Gibbs, Sagna – almost everyone have maintained a certain respectable level of standard in each and every game. It has given birth to a new spirit at Arsenal that is taking them to the zenith – question is can they last the distance?
I’m not taking the factor of opposition slip-ups at the moment. Simply, because, when you’re at the top you don’t look at the bottom. All you need to do is focus on your game and concentrate hard on keeping hold of that top position. Same with Arsenal at the moment – they hardly need to look at what City and Man Utd are doing at the moment.
There will be challenges of course and successfully dodging those will define their true championship mettle. So far, apart from Tottenham Hotspur, they have been handed a relatively easy fixture. Their real test will come later this month and the entire November when the Gunners will face Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd in succession along with Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund.
The opposition teams are equally eagerly following and waiting to see how Arsenal cope-up against this pressure. For instance, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said today:
“We will see the big fixtures coming now for Arsenal. They have only played us so far and they have both Chelsea and Manchester City to come, and Liverpool.
“I suppose the fixture list at the moment is in favour of Manchester United as they have played all the big teams so far, apart from us, so that will give them a chance to bounce back, for sure.”
Though losing few points in the month of November won’t decide the fate of the title race. But, it would allow others to join the race too or even leapfrog them. Mind, the Gunners have another difficult set of fixtures in the month of Feb and March to deal with as well. Certainly, losing momentum always invites an extra pressure on the shoulder. But, with Ozil leading from the front, they can dream, can’t they?
Their dream run ended in the midweek against Dortmund, when the German side defeated them 2-1 in the Champions League. But, Arsenal strongly placed in their European Group, can afford to take it as just another bad day in the office. They will be looking to bounce back strongly in the league again this weekend.
Will Arsenal’s trophy drought finally end this season? Can they really win the league? Have your say below…