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Are Arsenal Premier League Title Contenders?

Yes, Arsenal is hitting a sticky patch right now and are not playing the type of fluid football they’re renowned for especially in their away match against Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Watching the match, I kept on asking myself the question in my head, “Are they playing like Premier League title contenders?”

The simple answer was no.

This was a match where Portsmouth could have easily won especially after Benjani knocked the ball past the fast approaching Almunia and had to just knock the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately, he hit the ball too hard past the rushing goalkeeper and Clichy was able to knock the ball away to safety.

Sure, the Gunners had their own chances to win this match too, but two things were clearly evident.

1) Arsenal had an awful match by their own standards.
Portsmouth defended well, but it was more Arsenal playing well below-par than Portsmouth stopping the Gunners from playing their beautiful brand of football. Arsenal’s shooting and passing were uncharacteristically poor throughout the match.

 2) The Gunners don’t do well under pressure. This was the perfect match for Arsenal to put their stamp on the Premier League title to say to the world, and most importantly Man United, that it’s their trophy to win this year. Succumbing to the pressure of having to win to knock Man United off the throne as well as to beat Portsmouth who are often a bogey side for teams (especially at Fratton Park), Arsenal failed to deliver when it mattered most.

Life doesn’t get any easier for Arsenal. This Saturday they travel to Goodison Park for a match against a very tough Everton team (12:15pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel). Then they play West Ham at home on New Years Day (10am ET, Setanta Sports). Remember, the Hammers are the only team ever to have beaten Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

In the next week, we’ll definitely see whether Arsenal should be considered title contenders. In the back, they’re doing fine, but up front is where Arsenal fans will hope the side can start scoring again.

The good news for Arsenal is while they slipped up against Portsmouth and failed to get all three points, Chelsea drew against Aston Villa and Liverpool narrowly beat Derby, which means — for the time being — that it’s still a two horse race between Arsenal and Man United for the title.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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6 Responses to Are Arsenal Premier League Title Contenders?

  1. Michael says:

    I agree with you 100%, Arsenal are not true title contenders. Games like the one the Gunners drew yesterday are the games you absolutely have to win if you want the title: On the road against a top-6-or-7 team in a hostile environment.

    United thumped Villa 4-1 at Villa Park earlier this season, beat Everton 1-0 at Goodison, and recently won 1-0 at Anfield. Arsenal, by comparison, managed only a draw at Blackburn, a draw at Liverpool, and were fortunate to escape Villa Park with a 2-1 win.

    I knew that once the weather really turned sour and the fixture list grew more and more hectic, Arsenal wasn’t going to be able to play the style that they like to play and were able to play at the beginning of the year. It’s the time of the year where you really have to earn your victories and grind out games and that’s not the type of team Arsenal is. The ground is harder because it’s colder and the passes that were easy to control back in the summer are now bouncing up and coming faster, instead of playing once a week they’re now playing a couple times a week, and I honestly don’t think Arsenal is best suited to play in those conditions.

    United are going to win the title and could do it by 5 or 6 points, which leaves the Champions League as the Gunners’ other prize but I have a feeling they’ll be knocked out by the much more experienced, battle-tested AC Milan in the Round of 16.

  2. billeshears says:

    I think that it is a bit rash to judge Arsenal by a recent run of form when they have been hit by a number of injuries.

    Man U were quite rubbish at the beginning of the season and couldn’t score a goal to save their lives.

    Also, if you have seen A.C. Milan play recently, I wouldn’t be confident of them winning anything.

  3. tampasoccer says:

    Don’t write off Arsenal that quickly. Their next game at Everton is a must win, though. And playing at Goodison against in-form Everton will be very very difficult. Keep in mind that there is a long way to go and that United will also choke. It is a 2-horse race, but it is way too early to tell who will come on top.

  4. Low says:

    I don’t think Arsenal is that bad. Of course their recent form shows that those bad temper big headed unexperienced lads need more games (read: seasons) to prove. But dude i’m surprised with their progress.

    I wouldn’t write them off but i hope they sink deeper as the season progress and Manchester United can retain the title.

  5. Aj says:

    y would u say that gunners dont do well under pressure look at the chealse match they was under some much pressure in that match

  6. Llew says:

    Arsenal are definitely title contenders. Though I am saying this after the gunners handily disposed of Everton at Goodison Park, they are title contenders. They have show their class and skill all season long by drawing Liverpool (though Arsenal mainly dominated), defeated Chelsea and drew even with Man United.
    It is a fact that all teams will slip up as the season progresses. As Arsenal did by drawing with Pompey and United losing to West Ham. In all, it is a two-horse race for the time being between Arsenal and Man United. But there is a half season left to play. Until the tables say otherwise… Arsenal are contenders for the title.

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