Arsenal: Contenders or pretenders?

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The past few years have proven to be rather turbulent ones at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal began to build a reputation as a "feeder club" for the bigger teams around the world, losing superstars like Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Alex Song, and Samir Nasri just to name a few.

This season however, Arsenal have started stronger than ever, and youngsters such as Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere really do seem to have come of age. Also, the club has finally made a "marquee signing", and Mezut Özil has done nothing but impress since his multi-million move to London.

So, will this finally be the season that Arsenal can break the jinx and get some silverware back to the Emirates? Only a couple of months into this season, let's weigh up their strengths and weaknesses, and see how they compare...  

The good:

Arsenal have started extremely brightly this season, with only one loss in the Premier League so far, and sitting pretty at the top of the table after seven games. They were drawn into the so called "Group of Death" in this seasons Champions League, but have two wins in two games, and the Gunners are topping their pool in Europe as well.

Aaron Ramsey has been playing out of his skin, finally showing us what he's capable of. Everyone was aware of the young Welshman's talent before his horrific injury against Stoke City, and he finally seems to be returning to the heights we all believed he could reach, not only making goals for his teammates, but scoring for fun too.

Olivier Giroud has looked sharp all season, and with four goals in the league already, the Frenchman appears to be coming into his own in England. Mesut Özil, Arsenal's big money signing from Real Madrid has also not disappointed, making two assists on his home debut for the Gunners, and also scoring a fantastic goal against Napoli in the Champions League.

German Under-21 Serge Gnabry was asked to fill in for Theo Walcott on short notice, but the youngster has gone from strength to strength, scoring his first goal for the Gunners in the league. 

The bad

Though Arsenal have looked great this season, there are a few concerns which may lead to their undoing as the campaign progresses. The first (and most worrying) of these is their inability to keep a clean sheet.

The Gunners have conceded eight goals in seven games in the Premier League this season, and whilst they do look defensively stable for large portions of the game, small errors have caused them to lose clean sheets, more often than not.

Laurent Koscielny, while undoubtedly an accomplished defender, has a tendency of diving in recklessly, and has already conceded two penalties this season. Injuries are another issue which continue to plague the Gunners, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, and Theo Walcott out for sustained periods of time. 

All in all, it really is too early to label Arsenal as title contenders just yet. They are yet to play Chelsea, Liverpool, and both Manchester clubs in the Premier League so far, and it is largely these fixtures which could ultimately decide their fate.

What we do know however, is that Arsene Wenger's Gunners are definitely a much stronger outfit this time around. It certainly wouldn't come as a surprise if this time, Arsenal mean business.

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