At the start of the millennium, Arsenal were regularly locking horns with Manchester United although Matthew Glazier of Bettingpro.com wonders if it’s possible for the Gunners to finish ahead of the Red Devils, Chelsea and Manchester City.
For the thirteenth season running, Arsene Wenger has steered Arsenal into the knockout stage of the Champions League. Now attention turns to domestic matters as the Gunners look to bridge the gap between themselves and Manchester City in the Premier League table. Nine points separates the Gunners and the champions, with the Frenchman aware of the need to develop more consistency on a weekly basis.
“We have some time in the Champions League and now we can focus on the next step,” said Wenger. “But in the championship we have to make points. It is important you get closer to the top before Christmas”.
The bottom line for Arsenal is that they need to finish in the top four this season as always. After all, Monsieur Wenger likened it to winning a trophy at the club’s recent AGM and the financial rewards of Champions League football is fundamental for the club to continue attracting star names like Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, not to mention keeping existing players like Theo Walcott happy.
But can the Gunners challenge right at the very top of the Premier League table? Chelsea have started to wobble after a bright start, Manchester United came unstuck against a modest Norwich side recently and Manchester City seem at sixes and sevens when it comes to the right formation.
Not that Arsenal are without their faults and Steve Bould has lots of work on his hands to iron out the slack defending which saw Fulham recently score three times at the Emirates Stadium, while the north London derby should have been more straightforward against the ten men of Tottenham.
The next few games will teach us a great deal about Arsenal’s title chances, with trips to Villa Park and Goodison Park in the offing before home matches against Swansea City and West Brom. We might see the Gunners right in the thick of things come the middle of December or it could just be the case that fourth place is the only Premier League target for the New Year.