I would have been lambasted for having this thought on the opening day of the season, when the Gunners lost 3-1 to Villa and had lost out on all of their major transfer targets, from Suarez to Bender to Gonzalo Higuain and there were calls from all and sundry, including the one and only Piers Morgan, for a massive overhaul at the Emirates.
Heading into the 2013/2014 Premier League season, there was no clear favourite that stood significantly ahead of the pack. Manchester City were thought by many to be the team with the best odds of winning the league, with Manchester United and Chelsea in the mix as well. Arsenal, on the other hand – following a summer that saw virtually no improvement to a club striving to get back to contention – were considered by most to be below this core group of contenders, and many thought this would be the season the Gunners would fail to qualify for the Champions League
Just a few weeks into the season, however, things have changed for Arsenal fans. A series of strong performances, rapidly improving play on the pitch, and one major acquisition suddenly have the club looking like potential favourites to take the Premier League title.
As fans will recall, The Gunners got off to a disastrous start in Premier League play, dropping the opener 1-3 to Aston Villa, thanks in large part to a few crucial penalties and generally sloppy play. Since then, however, the club has been on fire, and a quick glance at the BBC will show you the results: a 3-1 win over Fulham, a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, a 3-1 win over Sunderland in a particularly dominant performance, and another over Stoke City where they outplayed the Potters at their own strength- set pieces, coupled with success in Europe over Fenerbahce and, most recently, Marseille.
The wins have come for a variety of reasons, the first of which has to be Olivier Giroud’s relentless scoring spree. He has scored in the four opening games of the season for the Gunners, the first Arsenal player to do so since Jose Antonio Reyes back in the 04/05 season. Pegged at the Betfair’s Premiere League betting tips page with the second best odds to win the Golden Boot (behind Robin van Persie), Giroud is worth a punt at 8/1 to top the goal scoring charts in the league.
However, it’s the club’s recent acquisition of stud German midfielder Mesut Ozil that truly indicates Arsenal’s standing as a top contender. After signing Ozil for a record-breaking fee, the dynamic midfielder debuted against Sunderland, fitting seamlessly into a revamped and deadly looking Arsenal offense. Ozil seemed to be creating opportunities the entire match, and with Giroud looking like an improved weapon up front, Arsenal may have just formed the perfect tandem.
All in all, it’s time to seriously ask the question of whether or not Arsenal are favourites to win the league. Throw in recent struggles by the other top contenders mentioned – Man City have already lost to Cardiff and drawn against Stoke, Chelsea suffered a surprise reverse against Everton and United have already gone down to Liverpool, and it might be worth to once again check whether Arsenal could have a shot at winning the title.
It’s a long shot, but as United have showed in the past- you need not be at your best to win the league. You only need to do better than your rivals, and some indifferent form among England’s top six could well catapult Arsenal to title contenders come Christmas.