Two straight FA Cup wins and Arsene Wenger finally getting one over Jose Mourinho in the Community Shield, until the opening day defeat to West Ham, Arsenal couldn’t have asked for a better five months. The question on everyone’s lips is: Do Wenger and his band of players have what it takes to go all the way this season?
The arrival of Petr Cech has seemingly solved a problem that has existed at Arsenal since the exit of David Seaman (and if we are being completely honest, that problem existed two years before the Englishman’s departure); the presence of a reliable goalkeeper. But having a goalkeeper that can make saves might not be enough.
If the opening day defeat to West Ham though us anything, it would be this: Unlike the Arsenal side of 2003/2004, Petr Cech is not invincible as both goals conceded by Arsenal could be blamed on the former Chelsea man. But Arsenal have a few other problems, the biggest of which is a forward who can score 25 goals or more in the league in a season. Giroud is a proven 15 goal man and Sanchez might be able to bang in 25 goals but the Chilean is already too occupied on the left wing. Arsenal have relatively no problem in midfield as the abundance of talent in the Arsenal midfield is dwarfed by none in the world, not even Barcelona’s. Don’t believe me, read these names, Mikel Arteta, Thomas Rosiscky, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Flamini, Francis Coquelin, Alex Oxelade-Chamberlain, Santi Carzola and of course, Mesut ‘the pass master’ Ozil. All these players can individually ruin teams (much like Chamberlain did Chelsea) on their day and all of them play under Arsene Wenger. Arsenal’s biggest challenge has been keeping all these players fit and fresh all season long. Their medical staff and fitness coaches have let Arsene Wenger down too many times but if they stay fit, Who knows, Giroud might bang in 20-something goals. Not because his finishing would improve but because they would create more than enough chances for the former Montpelier man. While Arsenal’s midfield resume would strike fear into the heart of any opposing fan, their attacking line up, save for Alexis Sanchez reads like a bunch of rejects from some middle table team in Italy (yes, we are referring to Mario Balotelli). I mean no one would be scared when names live Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell and Danny Welbeck are thrown at you. Arsenal have a pretty solid defence, when fit with Hector Bellerin, Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs all able to hold their own at full back positions and Gabriel, Koscielny and Mertesacker able to play comfortably against any forwards who are not Lionel Messi or Ronaldo (because let’s face it, they are unstoppable) and Calum Chambers able to deputize, Arsenal have quite a strong squad. The addition of Cech means Arsenal now have another player who knows what it’s like to win the league as Ozil and Sanchez have both picked up league titles as well as Joel Campbell. Arsenal would now have the back bone to be able to challenge for the league. Oh, did we mention that Cech has also won the UEFA champions league?
Arsenal might not be quite the complete team yet but the arrival of Karim Benzema which is imminent, as it has been for two seasons now could just push Arsenal over the top. But right now, Arsenal possess a very good but not great side and to win the Premier league right now, very good might not be good enough.
A very good midfield
An experienced manager
Alexis Sanchez/Petr Cech
No 20+ goal forward
The most injury-prone squad in the world
Substantial lack of confidence
Barclays premier league: 3rd
UEFA Champions League: quarterfinals
FA Cup: Semifinals