‘Belief’ has been an overused word in Arsene Wenger’s dictionary in the last decade. However, the Frenchman’s persistence seems to be rewarded slowly. The club took their time to end the trophy drought but did so in style by winning the FA Cup title in back-to-back seasons. Now, it appears that they are poised to end the wait for the league title as well.
Arsenal have not won the Premier League since the historic 2003-04 season when they went unbeaten throughout the season. It is an achievement that will probably never be matched again given the increasing competitiveness of the league.
Wenger spoke about how his team are increasing in confidence after they achieved yet another high profile victory on Monday night. The 2-1 success over Manchester City reinforced their status as the title challengers, and also moved them to a two points difference from League leaders Leicester City.
Inconsistency has been one of the biggest issues for Arsenal in the trophy starved last decade. There have been several occasions when the Gunners have been on a roll and seemed almost invincible, but only proved to be a couple of bad results away from collapsing once again. The spine of the team did not have the strength to rise to the challenge when the going gets tough.
However, victory against a top team like City shows that Arsenal have the quality, but do they have the mental toughness to do this over and over again until May?
There is every possibility that the Gunners could be at the top on Boxing Day as Leicester City probably have the toughest run of matches during this period with fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester City. If omens and statistics are anything to go by, Arsenal will be happy not to be crowned as the winter champions.
The 2002-03 and 2007-08 seasons witnessed the best from Arsenal in the first half of the campaign as they were op top before proceeding on Christmas, but failed to win the league on both occasions.
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has always stressed the importance of being on top on New Year’s Day rather than on Christmas. The Gunners will be up against Southampton and AFC Bournemouth next and boasts a rare chance to start the new year as the League leaders.
The biggest factor that could result in Arsenal winning the league title would be the lack of real competition. Manchester City seems like the only opponent who can stop them right now. There are also another interesting League facts that need to be kept in mind while considering Arsenal as next title holders. The Gunners have already conceded five league defeats and no team has managed to win the title after losing five games before Christmas.
Nevertheless, the title looks primed and ready for Arsenal, provided they keep their belief.