A hard-fought 2-1 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday was Arsenal’s sixth consecutive League victory.
It helped them open a six-point advantage over Liverpool with eight games remaining in the season. Arsene Wenger may dismiss the talk of a title challenge from Arsenal, but it is time to consider the Gunners as a potential contender.
Betfair may currently place Arsenal at a distant 25/1 for the title in the latest Premier League odds, but it is largely due to Chelsea significant advantage with a game in hand.
The blues are seven points ahead of Arsenal with a game in hand, but given the shaky form they have shown in recent weeks, Arsenal can certainly believe that they have a shot at the title.
Wenger discussed the amazing form, which has seen Arsenal win 14 out of the last 16 matches in all competitions, after the Newcastle victory.
Wenger said that this team is completely different from the one that struggled in the early part of the campaign when there were several doubts even about finishing in the top four.
Getting a number of players back from injury has certainly helped Wenger, but it is probably largely down to the Frenchman ensuring that his team adapt to the opposition.
This has not necessarily been the case in the last decade, as Arsenal were largely outplayed by the top teams. This season, Wenger has shown the hunger to performing well in these top matches by even resorting to defensive tactics if necessary. The 2-0 win over Manchester City at the Etihad stadium is a perfect example.
Liverpool are the visitors to the Emirates stadium after the international break and it would be highly surprising if Wenger once again goes back to his old self of setting up teams to play beautiful and attractive football even in the top matches.
A victory against Brendan Rodgers’ team will all but ensure a top four finish with seven games left after this encounter.
Since suffering the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United back in November, Arsenal have gone on to win eight consecutive home League matches. This impeccable form sees them backed at 17/20 to continue the winning run against the next opponents at home, Liverpool.
Liverpool’s brilliant run in 2015 came to an end after a 2-1 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday. Even though the Reds were playing with only 10 men for 45 minutes after Gerrard’s sending off, they were largely unable to cope with United in all areas of the pitch. Liverpool are backed at a distant 3/1 for a win at the Emirates, while a stalemate between the two clubs is given odds of 27/10.
A major contributor to this amazing form has been striker Olivier Giroud, who took his tally to 16 in 21 matches this season after two goals against Newcastle. The striker may not have been mentioned in the same breath as Sergio Aguero or Diego Costa, but his contribution in the last few months have been immense.
Apart from the odd instances, like in the 3-1 home defeat against Monaco, Giroud’s finishing has been ruthless. It would not be a surprise to see him in amongst the top scorers come the end of the campaign if he carries on in this form.
The FA cup may have been a distraction for the team, but a favourable tie in the semi-finals has given Arsenal a great position to defend their title. The Gunners will remain overwhelming favourites to get past Reading in the semi-finals and a potential final could be against Liverpool.
Winning the title last season and finally ending the trophy drought appeared to provide a massive relief to the players. Going back to Wembley and defending the trophy will provide the club and the players with a huge lift.
The potential threats for Arsenal may come in the form of games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. However, the League trip to Old Trafford does not come until the final few weeks of the campaign when the table may have been decided.
For all the good form shown by the club, it would be easy to get carried away. Wenger has chosen not to bask in the sunshine, as he continues to maintain that Chelsea remain on course for a comfortable title success. This may very well be a cunning mind game from the Frenchman, who has been second best to Jose Mourinho in this regard.
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