Can Arsenal still win the Premier League?

After a horrendous start to last season, with four defeats and sixteen goals conceded in the opening seven league games, this season started off so much better and with increased optimism.
The arrival of Steve Bould has significantly improved the team’s defensive organization, with an impressive partnership developing between Vermaelen and Mertesacker.

Ironically, Arsene Wenger’s decision to pair Vermaelen and Koscielny against Chelsea proved to be a costly mistake, with both Chelsea goals coming as a result of defensive errors.
The loss of Diaby in that game was also a factor in the loss, with the defence being breached within a couple of minutes of his departure.

While the holding midfielder is not one of the most glamorous positions, possessing a world class player in this position is often the difference between being champions instead of runners up.

Consecutive 3-1 victories over Olympiakos in the Champions League and away to West Ham in the league meant that Arsenal were back on track going into the international break.

What was the highlight of the international break?
Not Giroud’s last gasp equalizer for France against Spain or the Ox scoring his first goal for England; but more the return of Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna in a behind the doors friendly against Chelsea at London Colney, in which both players competed for the entire 90 minutes. After more than a year absent through injury, the slow and gentle return of Wilshere to the first team is crucial.

Arsenal’s positive start to the season made the loss to Norwich even more difficult to comprehend. Despite almost total domination, Arsenal lacked any real urgency and deserved nothing against opponents who had conceded nine goals in their previous two matches.

With eight games played, Arsenal have 12 points, two better than at this stage last season. The gap to the two Manchester clubs is six points, while Chelsea have a ten point advantage over Arsenal.

No way is this gap insurmountable. After all, this time last season Chelsea were third, nine points ahead of Arsenal, yet by the end of the season Arsenal finished six points ahead of their London rivals and three places higher in the league.

So for those Gooners who are experiencing that feeling of déjà vu, remember that the league campaign is a marathon and not a sprint.

Manchester United have looked fragile this season, losing to both Everton and Spurs. They were lucky not to drop points against both Southampton and Liverpool and so far they have shown plenty of vulnerability in midfield and in defence.

Manchester City have not been the same force as last season, with very lucky wins against both Fulham and West Brom and it looks as if they will once again struggle to exit the group stage of the Champions League. They have conceded goals in all but one of their 12 competitive games.

Although Chelsea have impressed in the early part of the season, they continue to have more than their share of lucky breaks. They were fortunate to win at the Emirates and lucky to face a Spurs side missing five key players, including Bale and Dembele. Their big tests are still to come and it will not be a surprise to see them slide down the table in the coming weeks.

Whilst both Spurs and Everton have had good starts to the season, neither has the long term pedigree to mount any sort of challenge for the ultimate prize.
So where does that leave Arsenal?

Arsenal are actually stronger following the departure of Van Persie and Song. There is far less reliance on any single player and the performances from the midfield engine room have been more effective and disciplined.

Rather brilliantly Arsene Wenger has converted Mikel Arteta into a deep lying midfielder who orchestrates play in the same way that Pirlo has done for years; while Arsenal are blessed to have a player of the class and quality of Santi Cazorla.

Foreign players are supposed to need time to adjust to the frenetic pace of the Premier League, but Cazorla has had an immediate impact and promises so much more in the coming months. His partnership with Lukas Podolski has already been fruitful, with much of the best attacking come down the left side of the field.

With the return of Wilshere, the pace and skill of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Gervinho, to complement the new signings, plus defensive steel; there is every reason to be optimistic that Arsenal will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

It may be a tad optimistic to suggest that Arsenal can become Premier League champions, but so far there has been nothing to suggest that there is a better team in the league than Arsenal. All that is required is more belief and more consistency and the title really can come home to the Emirates.

Jon Perez is a writer and blogger who writes across a number of subjects. As well as being a huge Gooner he is also a follower of American sports and in particular writes about NBA Betting