After losing their opening day fixture against a feisty Aston Villa side, thanks to an inspired Christian Benteke performance and some refereeing mishaps, few would have expected the Gunners to already have steered themselves back into a strong position.
After all, Arsenal looked a little lost on opening day and when things started to go against them, they couldn’t keep up. The result was a 3-1 victory to Paul Lambert’s side.
But Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Sunderland showed how far Arsene Wenger’s men have come in a short space of time. It was a game that drew plenty of parallels with the Gunners defeat to Villa, with one slight difference: Arsenal won.
Both games featured Arsenal letting slip a 1-0 lead. Both games had the Gunners dominate in the first half and struggle for large periods in the second. Both games could well be labelled a ‘test of character’.
Arsenal weren’t good enough to see off Villa’s advances, but managed to put a fired-up Sunderland side to the sword. There were scares along the way (Sunderland fans will argue that they had a goal wrongly ruled out), but the Gunners did enough to earn three points.
After a sparkling performance in the first half, Arsenal were able to grind out a result in a second (thanks to two lovely Aaron Ramsey goals). Aren’t these qualities that could well belong to potential Premier League champions?
Yes, it’s still early in the season. It seems somewhat churlish to discuss title-contenders, when so many sides are still attempting to find their feet. But with Arsenal’s new-found resolve and the teams around them failing to impress, the Gunners deserve to be in the conversation.
Chelsea’s performance against Everton showed that Jose Mourinho still had plenty of work to do this season. He tends to favour an ultra-organised, defensive approach, one that may not bode well with all the attacking flair in the Blue’s midfield.
Manchester United have also started the season slowly. There are doubts over the level of creativity that the likes of Michael Carrick, Anderson and Marouane Fellaini can offer.
Manchester City, on the other hand, look completely underwhelming. Manuel Pellegrini brought in a number of new signings this summer and it looks like it’s going to take them a while to gel together.
Liverpool on the other hand, look stronger than ever. I expect them to be right up there at the end of the season.
It is still to early to call the Premier League. But it would be foolish to suggest that Arsenal aren’t contenders, alongside Liverpool, Chelsea et al. In fact, at this stage, I wouldn’t be too keen to bet against the Gunners.
What’s your take? Could Arsenal be title contenders this year?
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