It’s a good time to be an Arsenal fan. From their 15 outings this season, they have dropped just five points.
Meanwhile, only Manchester City have scored more goals, and only Newcastle United have conceded fewer.
All of this has culminated in a healthy lead for the Gunners at the top of the league. For the first time in goodness knows how long, the north London outfit have realistic hopes of lifting the league title once again.
Of course, there is still a long way to go. Liverpool also held a commanding lead at this stage in the 2020/21 season, but a nightmare start to 2021 saw them tumble down the table before eventually finishing in third place.
Nonetheless, they are in a good position. Whether they can maintain this remains to be seen, but the next month ought to give us some insight into their title credentials.
On New Year’s Eve, Mikel Arteta’s men travel to seventh-placed Brighton & Hove Albion. Three days later, they face Champions League hopefuls Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium. The latter fixture will be their third in nine days.
This brings us to one of the biggest question marks surrounding Arsenal – they’ve got a strong starting XI, but their squad depth is perceived to be lacking.
Arteta has been reluctant to rotate this season, starting Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, and Gabriel Martinelli in all 15 league games.
Injuries and fatigue are inevitable, and the crammed Christmas schedule makes rotation necessary. And, with the FA Cup and Europa League knockouts just around the corner, their back-up players will be needed if they wish to be competitive on multiple fronts.
This is something that Man City don’t have to worry about. Pep Guardiola’s side defeated Liverpool in their last outing, while leaving the likes of Ederson, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish out of the starting line-up.
After their FA Cup clash with Oxford United, two more huge games await for Arsenal in January, facing Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
They are yet to pick up a point at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while their only defeat of the 2022/23 campaign came against the Red Devils.
Brighton, Newcastle, Tottenham and Man United. These are the four games that could prove decisive in their push for Premier League glory. If they are still top of the league after these four matches, they will give themselves a great chance of winning the trophy.
On the other hand, if they allow Man City to overtake them, they would face an uphill battle to reclaim first place.
Time and time again over the last few years, the Cityzens have shown that they’re capable of stringing several wins together in a row. The last thing Arsenal would want is to be chasing City.
The next month is potentially make-or-break for Arsenal. It should be a fascinating watch.
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