“It is very, very, very difficult (to win the league)” declared Arsenal legend Thierry Henry to Sky Sports. Oh so cliché, right? Wrong.
With less than four weeks to the kick-off of the new season, we look at why Arsenal are serious contenders to this season’s title race, but only if they sign a world-class striker.
In recent years, the Emirates has regularly been awash with pre-season optimism. Big signings such as Ozil and Sanchez have given Gunners the impression that they stand a genuine chance of competing. Yet it has all proven to be merely folly.
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However this year, there is a different kind of pre-season buzz around North London. A real buzz, a real sense that “this year could be our year”.
Certainly, Arsenal have a realistic chance. They have established a strong squad, building on last year’s third place finish. Arsenal proved last season that they have the squad in place to challenge for the league, illustrated by their fabulous end to the 2014/2015 season which saw them regularly top the 2015 form table.
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Arsenal’s meteoric rise in 2015 leaves them in a strong position to challenge Chelsea and Manchester City for the title. Arsenal have two advantageous factors in their favour; momentum and squad depth.
Firstly, Arsenal are the one Premier League side, other than perhaps Leicester City who carried genuine momentum at the end of the season-the FA Cup evidence of that. Their 4-0 victory on tour, albeit to the lowly Singapore further illustrates that Arsenal look set to continue their fine fettle in front of goal.
If Arsenal can keep such momentum going and make a strong start to the season, then their strong squad can capitalise on their momentum and continue it all the way to Christmas.
Whilst Arsenal cannot challenge City or Chelsea’s squad depth, their starting XI is not a million miles away. The addition of Petr Cech could prove pivotal in the race for first; Arsenal have a truly world class keeper for the first time since Lehman. Arsenal have found their wall, but the final brick is still missing.
World-class striker is missing
Arsenal’s defence, midfield and keeper can arguably match that of Manchester City and Chelsea. Where they fall short however is their lack of twenty-five goal a season striker. Where Arsenal have the reliable, although sporadic Giroud, their rivals have truly world-class strikers in Aguero and Costa.
In order for Arsenal’s squad to realise their potential, a striker of the calibre of their rivals is required. Names such as Lacazette and Higuain have been thrown into the rumour mill, but until one is signed, Arsenal shall not come close to the championship.
Arsenal are going in the right direction, but they are incomplete without a striker of Aguero or Costa’s calibre. Such additions would allow for Arsenal, for the first time in years, to lay a claim to the long-overdue Premier League title.