The stats don’t lie – with 20 games gone out of a possible 38 Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sit proudly at the top of the English Premier League.
Despite squandering the chance of recently going seven points clear and now being only just a point clear of free-scoring Manchester City, Arsenal have come through a difficult run of games over the Christmas period and they still occupy prime position. In their last three matches they have collected maximum points only conceding one goal.
With the January transfer window now open it is obvious that Arsene will need to strengthen up front as Giroud, Bendtner and Sanogo are all injured. Giroud has surprised many people with his performances up to now but the weight of expectation has taken its toll and his impact on games has reduced in recent games with his goals drying up. Bendtner has proven he is a capable squad player chipping in with a couple of very important goals, particularly the opener against a dogged Cardiff team which almost held out for an unexpected point.
The Cardiff game was interesting. The weather played a huge part and for the second home game running the conditions were atrocious but despite Arsenal’s obvious advantage (on paper at least) they really struggled to break Cardiff down. Movement was poor and a lesson Arsene Wenger will need to take out of this game is that if he plays both Arteta and Flamini in the same team, without Ozil, there will be a serious deficiency in creativity and this was evident in the first half. The main thing for Arsene was that his substitutions made the difference and he will take the credit for this.
For the watching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he saw Cardiff’s run turn into 1 win in 10 but Cardiff’s Mehmet Dalman and Vincent Tan have reportedly made substantial funds available for the Norwegian so taking over as the new boss will be an attractive proposition.
The petrol money which funds Manchester City and Chelsea, so unfairly in my view, means that it will be very difficult for anyone outside of these two to win the Premiership crown. This year has seen an unexpected window open which is unlikely to appear again for a few years and for the sake of football we need to see someone other than the money-bags teams winning the Premiership. The neutrals in the game are rooting for the Gunners to continue their march and with 82 points amassed in a calendar year they will be pushing City and Chelsea to the limit.
Being the top point’s scorer in a calendar year does not win any trophies, as Arsenal will testify. In their remaining 18 games they need to win at least 14 of these if this dream is to be kept alive. Arsenal will need at least 82 points come the 11th May 2014 if history is to be made.