Prediction at the start of the season
HITC pundits fancied Arsenal to be 4th at best this season, but to be fair, the summer of turmoil at the Emirates didn’t inspire much confidence in the build-up to the current campaign.
Overall performance to date
Arsenal have been able to hold their own with every other team this season, with the exception of Manchester City. The opening day loss to Aston Villa looked like a bad omen, and the trip to Old Trafford was disappointing, but the Gunners have overcome the wobbles and deservedly sit top of the heap.
8/10 – some called for Arsene Wenger's head prior to the start of the season, citing a long silverware drought and his perceived reluctance to spend his way to success. Yet Wenger has proved the doubters wrong, and won back the plaudits from the fans and media pundits.
Best game Arsenal have been involved in
Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal. It was a car crash in the end for Arsenal, though was a thrilling contest until David Silva struck the Citizens’ fourth. How often do we get to see a nine-goal affair between two title-chasing heavyweights ?
Arsenal's stand-out player
Against all odds, it has to be Aaron Ramsey. An object of derision for not fulfilling his early potential, the Welshman has silenced all doubters with eight League goals and six assists. Mesut Ozil has also settled in well, whilst Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have led the Premier League’s meanest defence with consistency.
Ozil has grabbed the headlines as the club’s record signing, and has provided to be a world class playmaker. Further back in midfield, returnee Mathieu Flamini has become crucial to the Arsenal machine. Loan capture Emiliano Viviano hasn’t made a single appearance for the first team, though, and youngster Yaya Sanogo has been a non-factor.
Arsenal's most significant win of the season
Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham. The 3-1 win against Fulham was the quick turnaround needed following the home loss to Villa, but the north London derby victory was better for morale and gave to team the confidence to kick on.
Low point so far
The aftermath to the Manchester City loss. Sure, nobody else had succeeded at the Etihad (and still haven’t), but conceding six raised question marks about the squad’s resilience.
Where Arsenal need to strengthen in January
Proper cover is needed for Olivier Giroud. Another defensive midfielder wouldn’t hurt either, as would a permanent replacement for Bacary Sagna, who looks to be on his way.
The rest of the season
March is packed with difficult fixtures, as Tottenham (away), Chelsea (away) and Manchester City (home) follow the Champions League round of 16 second leg at Bayern Munich. March could well end up being key to Arsenal's success this season.
image: © michael hilton