“You can’t win the title in the first six weeks of the season, but you can certainly lose it in the first six weeks.” – Alan Hanson
Arsenal head into the final nine games of the 2014-15 Premier League season one point behind Manchester City and seven off league leaders Chelsea, having played a game more.
Arsène Wenger’s side have hit some form since Christmas, taking 30 points from a possible 36 – closing Chelsea’s lead by eight points during that run.
But for a major slip up in the final two months of the season, José Mourinho’s side will finish above the Gunners and they will go on to win the Premier League for the first time since 2010.
Wenger’s side have simply left their charge too late and instead find themselves facing a battle to finish in the top four to qualify for UEFA Champions League football again next season, rather than a title challenge in May.
That dates back to the beginning of the season when Arsenal won just four of their first 12 games of the season and were in eighth position, 15 points off leaders Chelsea following their 2-1 loss at home to Manchester United in late November. The Premier League title was gone.
Many feel this Arsenal team are not still not ready to mount a serious title challenge again next season with a few significant upgrades.
Do Arsenal have a top goalkeeper to keep up the chase? David Ospina have made a good start, keeping five clean sheets in his first nine league matches, but does look like he has a mistake or two in the waiting.
Defensively, Wenger doesn’t have a whole host of defenders to choose from. The performances of youngsters Calum Chambers and Héctor Bellerín this season should give him two right-backs to work with for the best part of a decade. Most fans think Per Mertesacker should not be in a starting XI for any side competing in the Premier League top four in Champions League though.
Francis Coquelin has had a good couple of months – can he do that for a full season? Will he get the chance next season if/when Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere are fully fit? Or should Wenger look for a proven holding midfielder like Morgan Schneiderlin ahead of next season?
Mesut Özil has been too inconsistent in his two seasons at the Emirates now, Alexis Sánchez’s goals have dried up in the past few weeks and Arsène Wenger insists on playing Santi Cazorla anywhere but the number 10 position where he dominates games.
Olivier Giroud may bag a number of goals each season but the French striker misses too many chances that it costs Arsenal a number of points over the course of the season. Most recently Arsenal’s Champions League exit can be partly put down to the number of sitters he missed over the two legs.
Arsenal can have an eye on second spot and should be confident of a top four finish at worst this season, but top spot is out of sight and a number of improvements need to be made over the summer if they’re to be putting up a title challenge 12 months from now.
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