Arsenal are now at the halfway stage in the 2022/23 Premier League season and have amassed a sensational 50 points in 19 games.
Their 3-2 win over Manchester United puts them five points clear of second-placed Manchester City and they also have a game in hand on Pep Guardiola’s side.
While there’s still a long way to go in the 2022/23 season, Arsenal fans are now dreaming of their first league title since 2003/04.
We’ve listed six reasons why we feel the Gunners are going to finish the season as Premier League champions.
As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, attack wins you games and defence wins you titles.
Arsenal’s biggest weakness during Arsene Wenger’s final few years and Unai Emery’s tenure was their leaky defence, but Mikel Arteta has managed to address that problem.
They now have a balanced and organised defence and boast the second-best defensive record in the Premier League in 2022/23 after conceding just 16 goals in their opening 19 games.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale continues to go from strength to strength and has kept nine clean sheets this season. Only Newcastle United’s Nick Pope has registered more.
William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes have formed an impressive centre-back partnership, while Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko complete an increasingly solid defensive unit.
Every title-winning team needs a strong defence to provide the foundations for results and Arsenal’s back five are doing a brilliant job.
Since leaving Highbury and moving to the Emirates Stadium in 2006, Arsenal fans haven’t had much to celebrate and the lack of atmosphere has been criticised on numerous occasions.
But Arteta has helped generate an exceptional atmosphere this season and is now turning the Emirates into the fearsome fortress Highbury once was.
The Gunners have won eight and drawn one of their nine home league games this season, picking up 25 points out of a possible 27. That run includes wins over Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United and the Emirates has become a difficult place for sides to visit.
Arsenal have also played more games on their travels in the first half of the season, meaning they still have 10 home league games left to play in 2022/23.
“Definitely at the Emirates Stadium we feel like we are going to win, especially with the way the fans have supported us this year,” Bukayo Saka said.
“I can remember one game where we went 1-0 down – and they were still cheering for us. That normally didn’t use to happen at the Emirates.
“I think the fans have really stepped up and supported us this year. Of course, from our side, we believe in each other more and we’ve added some good players. We are performing at a high level right now.”
It’s a completely different story at Manchester City. Pep Guardiola has publicly criticised the atmosphere at the Etihad and they surprisingly dropped points in home games against Brentford and Everton.
One of the biggest criticisms of Arsenal in recent years has been their supposed lack of mental toughness and a late collapse last season cost them a Champions League place.
“We haven’t been streetwise enough in the last many years to be in the title race,” Arteta admitted. “It’s something we have to show we can do. But words mean nothing, we have to do it on the pitch.
“Having that balance of physical and mental strength and having those qualities in the squad is necessary. To have the mentality and capacity to control emotions that are required to play on big stages is very necessary.
“The physical aspect is necessary — without that you cannot compete over 11 months in the conditions in which we work. We have tried to build a team that has everything.”
A new-found mental fortitude has been evident this season as they’ve won relatively comfortably at Stamford Bridge and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
They’ve also come from behind to beat West Ham, Fulham and Manchester United, scoring late winners in two of those games. In previous years, the wheels would have come off after a setback but the players have shown real resilience and a never-say-die attitude.
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who have both won Premier League titles with Manchester City, have reportedly made a huge impact in the dressing room and are helping the shift in mentality.
Odegaard and Saka’s brilliance
Every title-winning side needs a couple of star players and Arsenal certainly have that in Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.
Saka has taken his game to the next level in recent months, registering seven goals and seven assists in 19 Premier League appearances.
Odegaard is wearing the captain’s armband and has become Arsenal’s talisman this season, adding an improved end product to his highly-polished game.
Saka is currently the favourite to win the PFA Young Player of the Year award, while Odegaard has been tipped to win the main prize.
“I’d go as far as to say right now, he’s probably my player of the year,” former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand told Vibe with Five.
“[Erling] Haaland’s done what he’s done. He has been great, don’t get me wrong. If Haaland eases up with the goals and Arsenal win the league and Odegaard continues, he’s my player of the year.”
If the duo maintain their form in the second half of the season, it’ll be incredibly difficult to stop Arsenal from winning the title.
Lack of Champions League football
Arsenal were devastated when they missed out on the top four last season but it could work to their advantage this season.
Unlike Manchester City, they do not face the demands of Champions League football in the next few months and can put their sole focus on the title charge.
It is no secret that City are desperate to win the coveted European trophy as it is the final piece of the jigsaw in their trophy cabinet.
Guardiola might be tempted to prioritise City’s Champions League campaign and that could take its toll on their title challenge.
Admittedly, Arsenal will also have midweek games as they are in the Europa League, but Arteta will probably rest his key players in that competition.
Gabriel Jesus’ return & squad freshness
Jesus’ injury during the World Cup was seen as a potentially fatal blow to Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes but they’ve coped admirably in his absence.
Eddie Nketiah has scored four goals in five Premier League games since club football returned in December, including a brace in the 3-2 win over Manchester United.
But any team would miss a player like Jesus, who registered five goals and six assists in 14 Premier League games before the World Cup.
To use an old cliché, the Brazil international will be like a new signing when he returns from injury and will give Arsenal an extra boost during the run-in.
While Manchester City have a strong squad, it’s also important to remember that their players played an overall total of 4,572 minutes at the 2022 World Cup.
In comparison, Arsenal’s players got an overall total of 1,700 minutes and the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey, and Martin Odegaard will be feeling fresh ahead of the second half of the campaign.
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