Arsenal weren’t amongst the three pre-season favourites but 34 points later and a 4-point lead over second-place Chelsea heading into matchday 15 this weekend sees Arsenal’s odds cut down to 9/4 second favourites for the Premier League title.
Since an opening day 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa that saw many an Arsenal fan calling for Arsène Wenger’s head, Arsenal have picked up 34 of a possible 39 points in the Premier League and almost qualified from their tricky UEFA Champions League group.
Dropped points in a 1-1 draw at West Brom in October and a 1-0 loss at Manchester United in November both came after Champions League matches.
The Gunners head into this weekend with odds of 9/4 second favourites for the Premier League title with William Hill – only Manchester City at 6/4 are shorter. Chelsea can be found at 3/1.
Everton are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The Toffees, like Arsenal have kept 5 clean sheets in their last 6 Premier League matches. Roberto Martínez’s side have won 3 and drawn 3 of those last six games, scoring 10 goals and conceding 3 (all versus Liverpool) in that sequence. Arsenal have won 5 and lost 1 of their last six, scoring 11 and conceding just 1, to Robin van Persie.
December is a big month for Arsenal and their title credentials. Starting with an Everton side that have lost just once this season, the Gunners travel to Manchester City the following weekend after their final Champions League group stage match versus Napoli.
A few extra days rest after their trip to the Etihad, Arsenal host Chelsea on the final Monday night game before Christmas Day. Then they travel to West Ham on Boxing Day before finishing the year at Newcastle.
Arsenal’s impressive start to the season has come despite a number of injuries. Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are just some of the players to have spent time on the sidelines already this season.
About Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski all remained sidelined currently. Olivier Giroud was rested mindweek allowing the return of Nicklas Bendtner. Since when has the Dane been a top 4 calibre player? That’s some injury probems Arsène Wenger has had to overcome already.
Manchester City are understandable Premier League favourites giving their freescoring form which has seen them score 10 goals more than any other team after just 14 games, and 11 more than leaders Arsenal. The Citizens could be stronger in defence and on the road; two issues that see Manuel Pellegrini’s side 6 points behind Arsenal.
Chelsea’s odds have slipped since the start of the season. José Mourinho’s side have also had defensive problems this season, most recently conceding 3 goals at Sunderland. Prior to scoring 4 at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night, Chelsea’s attack hasn’t always looked so impressive.
I have already written off Manchester United’s chances of winning the title this season. Tottenham have written themselves out (not that I ever considered them contenders) and I think Liverpool rely too much on Luis Suárez too much to have a chance of finally lifting the Premier League trophy. The Reds’ defence and midfield isn’t good enough for me.
Who do you think will win the Premier League?