Thursday, 16 December 2010

Arsenal's Title Ambitions Are Far From Over.

The days are dragging as I wait to see Arsenal play again. After the disappointment of Monday night's defeat I'm waiting to see what reaction there will be from the players and the manager too. At other times this season when Arsenal have lost a game, it has led to another bad result before things improved. However, the players need to bounce straight back against Stoke RFC, if their title challenge is to be taken any way seriously.

It's been said in various quarters that Arsenal have already lost five games this season, and that's far too many to have any chance of winning the league. That omits the fact that Arsenal have won more games than any other team in the Premier League this season. It would seem that their policy of either winning or losing almost all of their games is paying some dividends at this stage. When you consider that their only two draws in the league were due to added time equalisers, they could well have won 11, and drawn six games of their 17 that they have played so far.

Usually I would expect any team in the running for the title to have an average return of at least two points from each game, but Arsenal are second in the table with only 32 points from 17 games. Only "Manure" have an average points tally of over two points per game, but they are having troubles too. Their home form is by far the best in the Premier League, with 25 points from nine games, but away from home they have managed only nine points in seven games. They have won only one away league game, and they have drawn the other six. That surely has to give hope to Arsenal, and the other teams in the chasing pack as most of them still have to play at home to "Manure".

It all points to a very open title race, and if Arsenal can keep their heads down and work very hard, they are capable of staying in it right through to the end. There are some really tough games coming up for all of the teams involved in the title race, and points will be dropped by all of them I'm sure. Arsenal need to keep beating the clubs who aren't in the title race, and maybe even taking points off the other contenders too. The only points they have taken off any other contenders so far this season were the three points that got away to Man City. 

It has been mentioned elsewhere that Arsenal only won that game because City were down to 10 men from very early on. That of course neglects the fact that City deserved to have their player sent off, and if he hadn't got sent off Arsenal probably would have gone 1-0 up. The Arsenal fans who are determined to see the worst in everything that Arsenal do, will say that City aren't one of the top four teams, but clearly they are a much bigger threat than Liverpool this season.

Arsenal's home form has been poor this season, but with all the main contenders still to come to the Emirates there is a chance that a turn around in that form will make a significant difference to their title chances. I am not writing them off just yet, and even if things do go wrong they are still capable of delivering a trophy in the FA Cup or the Carling Cup. A victory in the FA Cup was the most I thought Arsenal could achieve at the start of the season, and if they manage that I would be relatively happy with the season.

That is of course assuming that they qualify for the Champions League as well, but I would be very surprised if that doesn't happen. At the moment it's only the Spuds that can change the make up of the top four, and I think that they are in a false position. If you look at their goal difference it's always a good indicator of how well they are doing, and The Spuds are only just in the plus column. I have a feeling that their inability to keep clean sheets will cause them to fall away, as the season progresses, and the top four will be set in stone with five or six games to play. 

In other news I forgot to mention that Arsenal's youth team beat Darlington 6-1 0n Tuesday in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. The goals came from a Chuks Aneke hat-trick, a Benik Afobe brace, and a goal from Daniel Boateng. It means that they face a trip to either Chelsea or Sunderland in the next round, and it won't be an easy task for an Arsenal Youth team that doesn't look as strong as it has done in recent seasons.

Arsenal's current star player has won another award, as Samir Nasri was named French footballer of the year. The award comes despite the fact that he didn't make the French squad for last summer's World Cup. I suppose when you consider how bad France were in that World Cup, it's probably no surprise that a player that had no part in the debacle won the award. He has had an excellent season so far, and he is Arsenal's top scorer with 12 goals already. If he keeps up that pace he will surpass 20 goals for the season, and only the very best midfielders can manage a haul like that.

That's it for today.

See You Tomorrow.

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