The race for the 2013/2014 Premier League title has been an interesting one. From the outset, it was a 4 horse race amongst Arsenal, Chelsea, City and Manchester United. Though the Red Devils had a change of guard after age-long manager Alex Ferguson unceremoniously announced his retirement and the Old Trafford outfit had to turn their attention to then Everton boss David Moyes to succeed the his highly successful compatriot. Regardless of the change of guard, Manchester United were still expected to vie for the title no thanks to the largely experienced players in their rank, the bulk of the team that won the title last season.
That wasn’t to be as a sluggish start characterized by surprised losses and drab draws saw Manchester United slip from the title race and were subsequently replaced by another red but this time from Merseyside. Liverpool duly took their place. Clubs changed but it still remained a 4 horse race.
Amongst the 4 teams jostling for the Premier League title, Arsenal showed the greatest consistency as they stayed at the summit of the Premier League for the most days.
Days spent at the summit of the Premier League table;
Arsenal – 128
Chelsea – 64
Liverpool – 59
Man City – 12
But it is not how far but how well. Manchester city that spent the least days at the top of the league table are now crowned champions of England. All they needed in their last match was a draw but Pellegrini’s men were not in the mood to take chances by playing for a draw. Instead, went for and got a convincing victory at home and with that regain the premier league trophy
What then did City get right that Arsenal didn’t? I believe Arsenal lost the league owing to their inferior offensive power. Of all the top 4 team jostling for the league title, Arsenal scored the least goals and had the lowest goals difference while City scored the highest number of goals and had the second best defence. Arsenal’s defence didn’t do too badly but the goals shipped in against title rivals away from home were just too much.
For the firepower, City unlike Liverpool didn’t have to rely on just two players like Liverpool to deliver 52 goals but instead spread their goals across board and have been able to amass a staggering 100 Premier League goals. Juxtaposing that side by side with Arsenal would show probably where Arsenal lost the league title race.
Aguero – 17 Giroud – 16
Dzeko – 16 Podolski – 9
Negredo – 9 Sanogo – 0
Jovetic – 3 Walcott – 5
Navas 4 Cazorla – 4
Yaya Toure – 20 Ramsey – 10
This forms the statistics of both club’s most influential players. Now let us break it down. From the stats above, it clearly showed that City had more quantity in the striking department (Aguero, Dzeko, Negredo and Jovetic) as against Arsenal that had fewer bodies (Giroud, Sanogo and Podolski). For the other goals outlet, Arsenal were unlucky owing to injuries to two key players (Ramsey and Walcott). While Ramsey’s season was halted for over 3 months owing to a thigh injury, Walcott’s season ended in January after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament damage against Tottenham in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.
City’s triumph in the Premier League is an indication that you cannot win the Premier League with few strikers. Depth of quality and quantity is required. We can see that the 4 strikers on their bill Aguero, Dzeko, Negredo and Jovetic are all seasoned and experienced strikers compared to Arsenal that had only Giroud as experienced. Sanogo is a rookie still cutting his football teeth.
The presence of quantity allowed City to rest and rotate their squad. This kept the players fresh and it is not a surprise that they maintained their scoring form throughout the season. That is a contrast to Arsenal’s fortune. The over-dependence on Giroud meant the Gunners suffered when the Frenchman got jaded or went to sleep.
Giroud has received lots of knocks from critics, claiming he is not lethal enough but in the chart above, Giroud has scored more goals that two of City’s strikers but unlike them, he didn’t have the luxury of another decent striker to take up the mantle when his body craved rest.
The lesson to learn from this by Wenger is that Arsenal need more than just two strikers if he is really serious about winning the premier League title next season. Some fans are clamouring for him to splash out big on a striker but I am opposed to this because doing that could get us quality but might deny us quantity. To win the league, a team needs at least 4 strikers and Arsenal have 2 currently, and one of them is still far from the finished article. That means the Gunners need 3 strikers and loan out Sanogo to gain valuable first team experience next season. Joel Campbell returns from his loan spell next season, Wenger should get 2 more in the market. Arsenal have been linked with several strikers, big name, decent ones and huge prospects. I will ditch the big names and land the decent ones. Remy and Drmic would give Arsenal quality and quantity and push them closer to the Premier League title next season.
The other thing that placed City in the pole position for the title is getting goals from the midfield. The one that stood out is Yaya Toure’s contribution. The Ivorian midfield marshal contributed a massive 20 EPL goals to City’s title chasing cause. In Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal also have a goal scoring box to box midfielder and it looked as though he would be leading Arsenal to the title until he suffered a thigh injury on boxing day last year. This goes a long way in emphasizing goals from the midfield and Arsenal must make plans for it next season. Ramsey is a good outlet for goals but a plan B should be provided in the light of injuries to the Welshman and there is no better plan B than another box to box midfielder that can get the goals in the absence of Ramsey. Chamberlain looks like he has that ability with his rampaging runs and fierce drives from distance but Wenger must play him more in that position.
Thank God the season is over, I sincerely hope we go on to win the FA cup and also hope Wenger will go all out in the transfer window and do the right business for us. It is time to right the wrongs of the last 4 transfer windows. Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity. Guess it is time for Wenger to tweak things a little and no excuse will be good enough this time.