Arsenal, total hope

Surprise leader of the Premier League with five points ahead of Manchester City after their new victory at Wolverhampton, Arsenal can believe in the unthinkable this season: the title of champion of England, quite simply.

Acceleration of Gabriel Jesus, perfect call in depth, precise transmission, control from the outside, center, goal… Yes, Arsenal play pretty football. This collective movement, leading to Martin Ødegaard’s opener in the 54e minute during the victory at Wolverhampton on the occasion of the sixteenth day of the Premier League, is an additional illustration of this. But as beautiful as it is, the action of goal characterized by redoubling of passes and a game in few touches of the ball is not so rare. And that’s not what contrasts with previous seasons, far from it. What is new or not seen for (a very) long time is rather that the Gunners don’t stop winning. Until when, exactly?

Authors of a serene performance among the wolves, although last in the standings, the Londoners have just signed a seventh success in their last eight league games and the twelfth in fourteen games for a single tiny defeat (conceded away, against Manchester United). Result: Mikel Arteta’s band now has a five-point lead over Manchester City, the defending champion, and its supporters will be able to spend a World Cup with a smile on their face. Above all, their impatience to (re) see their club fight for the heights will rise crescendo. Because this season, there may be something to do and a title to seek.

The frankness of Arteta, the optimism of Van Nistelrooy

Leaders like Chelsea or Liverpool who disappoint, a World Cup in winter and a 2021-2022 exercise necessarily a little weird with a long truce from mid-November to the end of December: it was indeed enough to see planets than the we hope to be well aligned at Arsenal. Especially that the Gunnersimpressive since this summer, show obvious progress and complete balance when they land on British lawns: best defense in the Kingdom (eleven goals conceded, tied with Newcastle), second most effective attack (behind the Sky Blueswith 33 pawns registered) and executives (hope Gabriel Martinelli, the ghost Granit Xhaka, the French international William Saliba, Bukayo Saka and his six assists, Jesus and his five assistanceØdegaard and his natural class…) who do more than hold the house.

So much so that the danger seems to come from anywhere, with the driving forces of the workforce appearing to be at their best at the same time. In a press conference after a triumph still under control on the field of Chelsea and the first coach in the history of the Canonniers to start a championship with nine victories in ten games, Arteta could not deny the reality of things: “Are we in the race for the title? Today, yes…” For his part, Ruud van Nistelrooy (one of the few coaches to have beaten the leader of PL this season, with PSV Eindhoven and in the Europa League) added a layer of it in remarks reported by Subway : “I was able to share my admiration for Mikel. The way he builds his team, the way he plays it, the players he recruits to match his philosophy… If you win nine times in ten days, you are definitely a title contender. Obviously, the team is very young, so it’s a challenge. But they have the numbers, the quality and the manager for that! »

Young and ambitious, sometimes feverish?

Beyond its inexperience (24.2 years of average age, which effectively makes it the youngest team in the championship), Arsenal will obviously have to overcome other obstacles to create the feat. Starting with the maintenance of excellent performance over the long term, a quality widely observed in the Mancunian competitor in recent years. “Dreaming of the title? Look at what City have done for six years, with the best manager and the best team in the world. They have shown consistency in every competition, we have to respect thatrecalled Arteta, always facing the media. We are progressing collectively and we are getting closer to this level, but there is still a long way to go. In football, today’s truth is not tomorrow’s. »

Similarly, the Spanish technician insisted on explaining that his bench remained “too small” to show high ambitions on all fronts following the League Cup elimination against Brighton & Hove Albion: “From day one, I said we had a limited team. If everyone is available and no one is hurt, everything is fine. But as soon as there is… We know what it is, it’s not new and I said it the first day after the transfer market closed. » What to look into the winter transfer window, but also surely prioritize the competitions. In order to keep this total hope, at least until the final games.

By Florian Cadu

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