Arsenal cannot be considered title contenders

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It seems strange that less than three weeks after Arsenal were being lambasted by the media in terms of their credentials for a fourth placed finish, I'm writing an article in an attempt to play down their chances at winning the league outright.

The dust has not so much settled after Arsenal's opening day defeat to Aston Villa as been completely blown away.

Three successive domestic victories and qualification for the Champions League, coupled with the ground-breaking purchase of Mesut Ozil has meant that the spectators at the Emirates can now look to the immediate future with untold optimism, rather than intent anxiety.

The Arsenal side that triumphed over Sunderland at the weekend, bereft of a fair few individuals who can be expected to start when available, looked classy and comfortable. Sure, their opposition have a tendency to be the architects of their own downfall more often than not, but only a cynical critic would suggest that Arsenal aren't looking far more flashy than they were initially anticipated to be.

But is this squad capable of doing the unthinkable? Can Arsene Wenger lead his charges to the Premier League crown ahead of David Moyes, Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini? For me, despite the Gunners looking a safe bet to be there or there abouts, the answer is no.

Read up just a few lines and you'll note that I highlighted the fact that Arsenal had a depleted squad at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. The Arsenal squad on the day was impressive, but one or two more injuries and Wenger will have no choice but to field players that are in truth not ready to be blooded at the highest level.

The centre of midfield has talent in abundance, and can cope with injuries to a few players and still compete with the biggest teams. However the rest of the team, in particular the centre of defence and the striker position looks light in terms of men capable of doing a solid job.

Olivier Giroud's injury scare at Sunderland exposed how much trouble the Gunners could be in if he is to be sidelined for a long term.

Fortunately for Arsenal Giroud is reportedly ready to continue action, but if not then the unfit, undesirable and, put frankly, unwanted Nicklas Bendtner is the next in line.

That's all very well when playing teams who will likely be staving of relegation at the end of the campaign, but against the biggest teams in the Premier League, throwing in a striker like Bendtner or the raw Yaya Sanogo as the main attacking threat will virtually rule out them having a strong presence up front. 

It's fair to say that the north Londoners have been particularly unlucky in terms of players on the injury table thus far this year, but with a number of his patrons proving historically quite prone to knocks and strains, it's unlikely that this will be the only time he is left with an unwanted selection headache. 

For me Arsenal's starting XI have the quality to mount a sustainable challenge, but their lack of strength in depth may prove to be the difference between their dreams and reality.

Wenger of course can go some way to remedying this in January.

Three or four signings could ensure that even when stripped to their bare bones Arsenal are still a tough side to break down, and with money left over in the Arsenal coffers, there isn't really a reason why Wenger wouldn't move to bring in new faces.

Arsenal are looking as far from the lame beast reporters were critically picking apart as you can possibly get, but they need more quality strength in depth if they are to truly prove their longevity and compete with the likes of United, City and Chelsea until the very end of the season. 

Until they lead more star players through the door Mesut Ozil has so courteously now opened, Arsenal cannot hope to win the Premier League.

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