Arsenal’s Impressive start
By Samuel Jones
Just nine games into the season and Arsenal sit top of the table on 24 points, winning eight games and loosing just one to historical rivals Manchester United. Arsenal are one point clear of Manchester City who are the book makers favourites to lift the title in May. Mikel Arteta has given Gunners fans something to believe in this year and has repaid the faith of the fans who trusted the process. In this article we’ll be looking at how they have started so well and if a title challenge is possible.
So far in the Premier League this season Arsenal have conceded just ten goals this is the joint second lowest after nine games. The centre-back partnership of Gabriel Dos Santos and William Saliba is seen as one of the best in the league this year and with Ben White taking the Right back position and when fit Oleksandr Zinchenko taking up the left back spot and with players such as Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney able to fill in for injury and fitness they have a top-level defensive unit. In comparison to this time last year they have only made 2 errors leading to an opponents shot whereas after nine games last season they had made 6.
Photo by Who’s Denilo ? on Unsplash
Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and club captain Martin Ødegaard is Arteta’s go to midfield if everyone is fit. This balanced midfield is important with the way Arsenal play. Arteta’s possession-based football has been a success so far this season with the side averaging 57.2% possession per 90 minutes, with the opening game of the season against Crystal Palace being the only time so far, they have failed to dominate. Which is an increase on last seasons 53.2% possession per 90 minutes. So far this season Arsenal are averaging 456.5 completed passes per 90 minutes an increase on last season’s 423.9. Ødegaard has individually had a productive start to the season with three goals and an assist in eight games.
Summer signing Gabriel Jesus has got off to a flying start for his new side scoring five goals and grabbing three assists. He is part of a dangerous front three alongside wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka. Between them they have 21 goal contributions in the first nine games. This attack has helped Arsenal outscore their xG by 4.1, Scoring 22 goals (Excluding and own goal scored by Crystal Palace) from and xG of 17.9.
Is a title challenge by Arsenal possible? They have got off to a great start and are top of the table, but Manchester City look fantastic this season and Erling Haaland is in outstanding form scoring 15 goals in just 9 games. Arsenal’s 57.2% average possession is much lower than Manchester City’s 67.7% showing their dominance in every game. Furthermore, Manchester City are yet to lose a game this season. Manchester City have incredible squad depth which will help them through the busy period in the build-up to the world cup during the next few fixture congested weeks. The same can’t be said for Arsenal, they have a fantastic starting 11 however the rotational options throughout the rest of the squad are weak. This could be a huge problem for Arteta should injuries come for key players such as Jesus, Saka and Martinelli. With and improvement in squad depth over the next two transfer windows I believe that we could see Arsenal challenge for a title however this year I don’t believe the squad depth is there.
Stats from FBref