Arsenal, the Premier League’s perennial fourth-placed team, are beginning to show signs that they may be on the right path to returning to the quality of Arsene Wenger’s famous ‘Invincibles’ years.
The 2-0 win away at Manchester City could prove to be the north London club’s biggest result in recent years. And they can only get better.
For so long, Arsenal would start a season strongly, their fans’ silverware hopes intact until January, before dropping off for two or three months. They’d then rally at the end of the season, just enough to ensure they don’t relinquish their grasp on that cherished fourth place.
Change of mentality at the Emirates?
The problem, many argued, was mental. Wenger never seemed to be able to instil the belief in his players that they could last the season, and great runs would often become unstuck against the so-called ‘big-boys’.
Before this month, Arsenal had not beaten Manchester City in the Premier League since October 2010. They’ve also failed to beat Chelsea and Manchester United since October 2011 and May 2011, respectively.
This illustrates probably the key reason Arsenal haven’t won the league since 2004. How can you possibly expect to win the league if you consistently fail to beat any of the teams above you?
Man City performance sets the benchmark
But this season, it already looks like things are changing. The Manchester City performance was a show of ground-out steel and determination rarely seen in recent years, combined with the flair of forward players such as the excellent Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez.
And it’s this forward line that makes me believe Arsenal can win the League next season. With many of their forward players now returning from injury, Arsenal have the best array of creative players in the entire league.
It is testament to this quality that Arsene Wenger will somehow have to pick three creative midfielders/forwards from the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and even Serge Gnabry.
Arsenal have, on paper, the best midfield in the league. Add a world-class defensive midfielder, a proven striker, and steel up the defence, and I believe there’s a real chance they could be Premier League champions in 2016.