Arsenal, Spurs or Mourinho's men: Who will be London's top dogs?
Before the season started, it felt like crisis time for a number of London'd clubs. Arsenal appeared to engaged in a summer long and fruitless pursuit of transfer targets that seemed uninterested in moving to the Emirates. Across north London Tottenham seemed certain to lose their talismanic player, Gareth Bale, to the seductive attractions of Real Madrid, with no certainty that any incoming funds would produce players that compensate for the loss. At Stamford Bridge, the incoming Jose Mourinho promised drama, but high risk strategy doesn't always succeed. /now, only seven games into the nascent season, the world for these London clubs looks somewhat different.
Arsenal, during the last knockings of the transfer window, secured what was probably the transfer coup of the summer by signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. The German playmaker has ﬁtted seamlessly into the Gunners' ethos and Wenger's team look as big a threat to the league title as they have for many a year. Not only has Ozil added a touch of class to the Arsenal midﬁeld, Arsene Wenger has also managed to convince Aaron Ramsey that he can score goals from his position, but also that Olivier Giroud can lead the line with power and assurance, plus notch his fair share of goals. Such has been the success of Wenger, that Arsenal top the early season table, and look genuine title contenders.
Losing your outstanding player can have a debilitating effect on a team, both in terms of lost effectiveness, and also that the club appears to be a 'selling club' rather than one that accumulates high calibre players. It was always going to be important therefore that if Bale was to be lost to Spain, the money coming in should be invested wisely. With this in mind, it would be difﬁcult to criticise the work of Spurs' chairman Daniel Levy and manager Andre Villas-Boas. spending the £80-odd million form Bale - plus a bit more besides - Spurs have totally revitalised their squad, which now seems packed with quality players, and has received the added bonus of young England starlet Andros Townsend. Although Spurs have suffered a couple of reverses recently, losing at Arsenal, dropping points at home to Chelsea and then losing ot West Ham, as the squad settles and gels, it can surely only improve.
Moving from north to west London, Chelsea have experienced a steady start to the season and sit just two points below the Gunners. Whilst that does sound outstanding, they have already visited Spurs and Manchester United, and come away with creditable draws. With Mourinho's penchant for secure defence, and the debate over Juan Mata now seemingly settled, it is only in the striking position that the Blues appear to be less than convincing. With Romelu Lukaku, loaned out o Everton, looking full of goals, and exhibiting the pace and power reminiscent of a young Drogba, Mourinho will need his 'retained' strike force of Torres, Eto'o and Ba to start delivering the goals to supplement those coming from the team's creative midﬁeld. If the portuguese can resolve this issue, Chelsea will be a force to be reckoned with.
Early season form can often mislead, but all three of the clubs mentioned look well set for a sustained challenge in the league this year. January will be interesting, and if any of three substantially improve their squad, it could make all of the difference, but for one, sticking my neck out, I think this year could be the season that Arsenal not only ﬁnish as top dogs in london, but also secure the league title.
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