So, they think it’s all over, but is it now? This is a question that many football fans will be asking, and will be asking even more if they’re an Arsenal or Manchester City fan.
After City’s 1-1 draw with Everton at home and a 4-2 away against Brighton for Mikael Arteta’s Arsenal, which saw a seven-point lead open up at the top, then I would say it’s a plausible question.
The stats would say, that The Gunners seem odds on to win their first Premier League crown since 2004. What makes it very possible for the North London side is their lack of fear this year, it’s been remarkable.
Almost every time that Man City have dropped points, Arsenal have taken advantage of the slip-up. Arteta’s men, of course, will have shades of Manchester City in them, after all, Mikael Arteta spent several years as Pep’s assistant.
If memory serves me correctly, when the former Arsenal captain left to rejoin the club as manager, City had inflicted an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat on them. Things have changed in what feels like such a short space of time.
Credit to Arteta, he’s addressed and plugged some gaping holes in this Arsenal side. No commanding centre-back? No problem as Gabriel and Saliba have been sensational. William Saliba who was on loan at Marseille last season can feel aggrieved that he didn’t get more game time at the World Cup in Qatar.
First choice Dayot Umpecano who had a poor tournament, should have been the man to make way, such is the talent of the French national team they can bench the Arsenal defender.
Saliba has been outstanding alongside Gabriel, so much so that normal centre-back Ben White is playing right-back and to the England man’s credit he’s been superb too.
Further up the pitch, Bukayo Saka has been superb as has Martinelli and Odegard too. Gabriel Jesus being inured is a blow, but such is the confidence of this Arsenal side, it looks like he has and will not be missed.
Every player is contributing with goals. Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu who are two players that have impressed in an Arsenal shirt are being kept out of the side due to the brilliance of the players currently in the playing 11.
It’s reactionary to say that Arsenal will win the league due to them winning yesterday and City drawing, but the assessment I make is based on the entire season so far.
The Gunners did lose to Manchester United, in what is their only league defeat this term, but since then they have dusted themselves off and pressed on again.
Manchester City on the other hand in the league have one point for their last two games. From the City’s viewpoint and this title race, this is a poor return. With the greatest respect to Brentford and Everton, they should on paper be winning both games.
As is often the case with Pep Guardiola, yesterday’s game with The Toffees saw him make some changes to his side. Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker have been mainstays of this City side but weren’t included in the starting 11.
It’s small details that make have massive repercussions, think of the Champions League final of 2021. This was a match which was at City’s mercy, but with some unusual tactics (to put it kindly).
Possibly too simplistic in my assessment, but Manchester City aren’t quite as watertight as they have been in previous seasons. The Cityzens and Haaland are scoring plenty of goals, but it’s tighter games where Pep’s men have been coming up short.
Premier League titles are not won on December 31st. Arsenal who have been close to flawless this term now will have to manage fans’ expectations, as they dare to dream of Premier League glory for the first time since 2004.
Man City, won’t go down without a fight. This is the same Manchester City that have won four of the last five league titles, so it’s clear that Pep’s boys have the know-how of how to win a title.
The top two still need to play each other of course. Win, City go just four points behind Arsenal, lose then it’s a massive 10 points.
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