- [Photos] Alexis Sanchez reveals frustration after Ballon d’Or Snub
- [Tweets] Arsenal players celebrate on Twitter after beating Reading
- [Player Ratings] Arsenal 2-0 Reading: The Ox & Gibbs Impress
- Video: Arsenal 2-0 Reading: Oxlade-Chamberlain double sinks Royals
- Teams: Arsenal v Reading: Jeff & Perez start
- [Video] Arsenal star out of Reading clash after sharing gym video
- Arsenal star surprisingly named in squad for Reading clash
- Preview: Arsenal v Reading, team news, 18yr old starts + prediction
- 4-2-3-1 v Reading: Perez & Jeff start – My Arsenal starting XI
- [Photos] Several youngsters join Ramsey & Giroud in Arsenal training
Are Arsenal Premier League Contenders or Simply Flattering to Deceive?
Rewind just a few short weeks, and Arsene Wenger looked like a dead man walking at The Emirates. Booed off the pitch after leading his Arsenal side to a miserable defeat on home soil against Aston Villa, a side that spent last season flirting with relegation, Wenger’s lack of activity in the transfer window amid overwhelming evidence of the need to strengthen was threatening to boil over into all-out revolt in the stands.
As is always the case with football, though, hindsight is a fine thing. Fast-forward just a relatively short period of time and Arsenal are sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League, in possession of one of the best playmakers in the world, and boasting a fine away record by any side’s standards that started with a shock win in March against Bayern Munich.
Predictably enough, some of Arsenal’s early season doubters fell back on the usual routine of “just wait until they come up against Stoke”. Well, they did just that at the weekend, and ran out 3-1 winners.
With Arsenal also taking early control of their Champions League group, it has tempted some football fans to look towards the BetVictor odds for the Gunners to win the league (currently standing at 6/1) with more than a hint of temptation.
Scratch beneath the surface, though, and you can see that perhaps a slight reality check is required?
Arsenal may be on a fine run of form, and seem to have papered over the defensive cracks on display last season thanks to the return of Mathieu Flamini and the return to form of Per Mertesacker, but they still do not possess the strength in depth that their close rivals for the league do.
Let’s compare the substitute benches from the weekend’s games. Manchester City, rampant 4-1 winners against United on Sunday, were able to bring on Edin Dzeko, Javi Garcia, and James Milner, while still leaving the likes of £22 million frontman Stevan Jovetic on the bench. Likewise, Chelsea were able to haul Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, and Kevin De Bruyne into the action against Fulham.
Arsenal, in comparison, had Nicklas Bendtner on the bench, a man who has spent two years in mysterious Arsenal exile, and Ryo Miyaichi, a man whose arrival on the pitch prompts many opposition fans to shout “Who?”
Should the likes of Ozil pick up an injury, which isn’t out of the question given the proclivity of players playing in his position, and particularly at Arsenal for some reason, to pick up knocks, the replacements available to Wenger to draft in simply aren’t good enough to maintain title-winning quality week-in, week-out.
Furthermore, Tottenham aside, Arsenal are yet to come up against the big boys of the Premier League, and it remains to be seen how their defence copes with the likes of Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez, and an in-form Sergio Aguero.
Arsenal fans have seen bright starts before watching in despair as the club suffer a mid-season collapse, and one defeat to the likes of Manchester United or Chelsea could send a side traditionally regarded as psychologically suspect into a spiral of self-doubt once again.
***This post was submitted by a guest contributor***