As the Premier League heads readily for the half-way point, Arsenal look close to unassailable at the top after picking up another three points this weekend against Southampton. Rest assured, however, that Arsene Wenger’s men are odds on to falter come May.
If that seems like a wild, unreasonable, or even bitter statement of affairs, it is backed up by history. It would certainly not be the first time they have blown a lead after an impressive start to the season.
Another factor is the Gunners' blatant – though excusable – over-reliance on Mesut Ozil. The German playmaker has lit up the Emirates since his summer arrival, but he is the only really notable change to their outfit since last season – when they finished fourth by a hair.
In comparison, last year’s title winners Manchester United were able to boast Van Persie, Rooney and Scholes, to name but a few. Aaron Ramsey has come on leaps and strides, but asides from the Welshman and Ozil, there are few Arsenal players who would even be in contention for many of the other top, top sides in Europe.
This season may have been plain sailing for the Gunners. Their only blips have come against Aston Villa on the opening day of the season and in a more recent 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford (again, somewhat excusable).
However, as the season gathers pace, as do their rivals. After struggling initially with their away form, Chelsea looked solid at Upton Park in Saturday’s 3-0 win against West Ham, and Mourinho seems to have once again decided on his best XI. Manchester United are slowly but surely climbing up the table as David Moyes finds his feet, and Liverpool continue their assault on the top four under Brendan Rodgers.
It remains to be seen whether Spurs’ new-look side will come together in time for a title push, but it is safe to say the rest of the season will not be as easy as the beginning seems to have been for Arsenal.
Since the 2003-2004 ‘Invincibles’ squad, Wenger’s sides seem to have possessed a mental frailty not found in champions. Mourinho has it, Ferguson had it, and Wenger certainly used to have it. Wenger’s young guns may well be in need of another year before they glisten with the maturity of a side capable of winning the Premier League.
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