If there was ever any doubt that Mikel Arteta and Arsenal mean business in the Premier League title race this season, it was made clear when the Gunners took on West Ham United in the first match after the World Cup. Having gone five points clear at the top of the table heading into the tournament, many expected the month-long break to disrupt the team’s momentum.
But if the first game back after the season resumed was anything to go by, Arteta and his boys are raring to go after picking up from where they left off. A commanding performance against David Moyes’ team showed the stuff of aspiring champions. Despite going 1-0 down in the first half, the Emirates Stadium was left in ecstasy as the home team clawed back to secure a well-deserved 3-1 victory.
For all those still questioning whether Arsenal could really challenge the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool to the league title this term, the answer was as clear as daylight. Liverpool are currently struggling to regain the form that saw them go head-to-head against City in the last several campaigns. Eric Ten Hag is rebuilding with Manchester United as is Graham Potter at Chelsea.
That leaves Arsenal as the main opposition to City at least in the first half of the campaign. The Gunners have now moved to the front of the queue as the main challengers to the Blues.
Taking Arteta and Arsenal for granted at this point, as far as the title race is concerned will be a big mistake. So far, the team has lost just once in the Premier League this term. That was a 3-1 defeat away at Manchester United in September. Beating all of Leicester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea to maintain top spot underscores their title credentials. Even more important is the manner in which the team has been dominating the opposition in matches.
The addition of players like Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko was seen by many as a masterstroke. The former City duo seemed on a mission to shift power from Manchester to London since switching cities. But playing with the same authority against West Ham and winning comfortably despite their absence shows just how solid the team is now.
Although Erling Haaland has been a sensation in the league, that has not translated to the Blues' dominance on the table. City have been vulnerable this season dropping points against Newcastle and Aston Villa while suffering shock defeats to a struggling Liverpool side, and Brentford.
However, just approaching the halfway mark of the campaign, there’s still a lot to play for. City must now double up to close the gap at the top of the table as soon as possible. The two games played after the World Cup so far present encouraging signs. The team has scored six times with Haaland contributing half of that tally.
It’s a step in the right direction in the quest to make this, another very successful season irrespective of Arsenal’s resurgence.