Arsenal: Premier League contenders or pretenders?

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After a catastrophic opening day defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal fans couldn't be blamed for not really expecting much of a title challenge once again this season.

In just 90 minutes of football, Arsene Wenger's side looked like a team on a downward spiral - a team that would struggle to even make the Champions League places this season.

Fast forward five weeks, and Arsenal are sitting top of the Premier League and have one of the world's best playmakers in their side. The Gunners have also comfortably secured a place in the Champions League group stages and have opened their European campaign with a fine win in Marseille.

And, after victory against Stoke City, its led to many questioning whether Arsenal are genuine contenders to Manchester United's crown this season.

Now we all know Wenger's side are on a trophy drought - which has so far lasted eight years -but winning the Premier League would certainly be some way to end that record.

But are they good enough?

When comparing Arsenal's squad with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and dare I say it, Tottenham, the Gunners don't look as strong.

The depth of their rivals is certainly something they are lacking. Gunners fans were over the moon with the signing of Mesut Ozil, content with the signing of Mathieu Flamini but slightly worried that other stars did not walk through the Emirates door.

If Wenger's side are still in the race for the title in March next year, and the big games are coming thick and fast, then they just can't afford injuries and suspensions or else their title challenge could crumble.

However if key players can stay fit, then the sky is their limit. There's no doubting that the Gunners have some of the most talented midfielders in the league at their disposal.

In central midfield, Wenger has new signings Mesut Ozil, and Mathieu Flamini to call upon. He also has the likes of Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and inform Aaron Ramsey fighting it out for a place in the line-up.

Wenger's blessed with midfield talent - players that are certainly good enough to compete at the very top of the Premier League.

Additionally on the wing, the Gunners have many exciting stars - Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are two of England's finest and when back fit Wenger can call upon German international Lukas Podolski. Serge Gnabry was even given his chance to shine for the first-team yesterday and din't look out of place.

Arsenal's midfield and wing stars are certainly good enough to help the club contend for the title - but is the rest of the team?

In attack, Olivier Giroud is Arsenal's main-man and arguably their only man. Gunners fans may argue that they have the option of playing wingers Walcott and Podolski in attack but they are not out-and-out strikers like Giroud is.

Giroud could become key to any challenge from Arsenal this season. In a slightly different way, he is now just as important to the Gunners as Robin van Persie was a few years back.

It's unlikely he will score as many goals as the Dutchman and it's likely his teammates will help contribute with more goals - but without him, Arsenal will lack a danger man in the penalty box.

Keeping Giroud fit and firing could put the north London club on a path to success this season.
A strange one for Wenger is his defence. Often criticised for blunders and individual errors - the back-line of Arsenal actually have quite an impressive record.

They have Per Mertesacker commanding things from the back and despite not being the most switched on defender, he certainly knows his way round a football pitch.

The only worry you would have with Wenger's defence is when they come up against the big-boys. Are they good enough to handle the power of some of the best in the Premier League?

Arsenal, coming up against the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez could be vulnerable. They showed that vulnerability against Christian Benteke and Aston Villa on the opening day.

However, things are looking up for Arsenal - if they believe they are good enough to win the title, then they may just surprise a few.

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