Arsenal must take best opportunity

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For years now, Arsenal fans have suffered taunts about their lack of recent Premier League titles. Often, their rebuttal has been 'the team has potential'.

And for years, the youngsters would develop and then sold, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, Theirry Henry, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna to name a few.

Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were injury-prone and it looked as though neither they, or the unfortunate Aaron Ramsey would fulfil their potential, especially after the latter's unfortunate leg break against Stoke.


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So now, with the team seemingly stronger and the star names arriving rather than leaving, is it time for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal to finally win the Premier League title?

Undoubtedly, this season is the best opportunity in recent years that Arsenal have had to achieve it. Not only are they playing far more consistently than before - where they traditionally start slow - but teams around them are faltering.

Realistically, only Leicester City have been consistently impressive this season, while Tottenham Hotspur have also enjoyed a good period to date, they have drawn far too many games. Are either of these two genuine title contenders? Probably not.

Then there is the case of Manchester City, who have a squad worth in excess of £300 million. They are favourites to win the title, but their inconsistent away performances have resulted in a poor four defeats this season already.

Without their spine of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany, the Citizens look far weaker than previous title winners. Obviously, every team would be considerably poorer without four of their most influential players, but every team doesn't have the same problem as City - their star players are ageing and seem to be particularly injury-prone.

So, Arsenal have the title in their own hands, but can they do it? History would suggest otherwise.

Critics often point the finger towards their 'bottling' mentality when times get tough. There is no better example than the 2007/08 season, where Arsenal were ten points ahead of second-placed United, and then suffered the ignominy of four draws in a row and a defeat to ultimately finish third.

But, the team has matured in the last five years, with Ramsey seemingly coming of age alongside Theo Walcott. There is youth in the form of Francis Coquelin - the midfield stalwart that the Gunners have been lacking of late - and pace in defence through Hector Bellerin, a product of the Barcelona youth system.

Meanwhile, the centre-back partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker has been solid for a couple of seasons and the former has developed into an excellent defender. This partnership may be on its last legs so Arsenal need to make it count.

Finally, high-calibre acquisitions in £42.4 million Mesut Ozil and £35 million Alexis Sanchez prove Arsenal are no longer a selling team and can attract world-class talent.

They also have a born leader with bags of Premier League experience between the sticks - Petr Cech. The goalkeeping situation has been a weak link at the club for far too long, highlighted by David Ospina's costly own goal in the Champions League earlier this term.

Last weekend, when Oliver Giroud scored an own goal against Sunderland, there was a collective groan from Arsenal fans. Without many of their first eleven available, the same thoughts must have been going through each of their minds: "It's happening again."

But Arsenal dug in and ground out a victory, something they may not have done in previous seasons. The question is, can they do it every week?

Arsene Wenger
Premier League

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