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Will Arsenal be a worthy title challenger in this Premier League season?

Helios Hong

Erling Haaland celebrating after scoring during the Matchday four Premier League match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace in the Etihad Stadium on August 27, 2022

Having just missed out on the top four champions league spots in the previous Premier League season, Arsenal Football Club spent the summer continuing the project of signing and building a squad of young talents set forth by their coach Mikel Arteta. In the summer transfer window, the club contracted both Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City for a combined 75 million pounds. In addition to improving first-team choices, the club also increased squad depth, a big factor in their collapse at the end of the previous season. The club purchased goalkeeper Matt Turner to replace the outgoing Bernd Leno, and they signed Fabio Vieira from Futebol Clube de Porto (FC Porto) to provide another option for club captain Martin Odegaard. All of these purchases proved to be an important reason for their tremendous success in the current Premier League season.

Two-time defending champions Manchester City Football Club had a very different summer transfer window. With the signing of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, the club spent the summer refreshing the squad with new additions and many departures. Some of the biggest departures include Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal F.C., Raheem Sterling to Chelsea F.C., and Fernandinho back to Brazil. These departures were supported by several new signings including Kalvin Phillips to replace Fernandinho, Sergio Gomez to replace Zinchenko, and Manuel Akanji to strengthen the defense. According to many critics, this squad of new players and less depth could be a vulnerable spot that many other Premier League clubs can exploit.

However, their lack of squad depth is overshadowed by the star of this Premier League season, Erling Haaland himself. Haaland has scored 17 goals in 11 games (as of Monday, Oct. 24. 2022). If Haaland continues to score goals at this rate, he will have scored 58 goals by the end of the current Premier League season, shattering Mohamed Salah’s record of 32 goals in a single season by 26 goals. A massive reason for Haaland’s success in the front end of the pitch is the good service he gets from the middle of the pitch. Manchester City has a whole range of creative midfielders and wingers who can both supply Haaland with simple tap-ins in front of the goal and create moments of brilliance themselves. These include wingers Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, new signing Julian Alvarez, and midfielders Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Kevin de Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva. This incredibly well-oiled squad of talented individuals continues to prove a massive issue for opposing sides in the Premier League.

Even though Manchester City is currently enjoying a successful, high-scoring season, people cannot stop talking about Arsenal, who are currently two points ahead of the defending champions in the Premier League table. Arsenal is enjoying an impressive run of form, winning four of their last five Premier League games and winning 13 of their 15 games across all competitions this season. The creative front three of Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, and Bukayo Saka, supported by Martin Odegaard, Granit Xhaka, and Thomas Partey, shared 13 goals and nine assists, and their goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale produced four clean sheets, joint-third in the Premier League this season.

However, I believe that Arsenal will not provide a long-term title challenger for Manchester City. All throughout last year, Arsenal was criticized for not being able to bounce back quick enough after a loss. Factors including having a relatively inexperienced squad and an inexperienced head coach contribute to this failure. If Arsenal were to experience a dip in form anytime this season, it is unknown whether they will be able to recover quick enough to keep pace with Manchester City. From past seasons, we can see that Manchester City does not drop many points in a season, with an average of 22.4 points in the last five seasons. With the attacking brilliance of Erling Haaland, one can only assume that they will be dropping fewer points this season. Therefore, if Arsenal were to win the title this season, they would have to be almost perfect throughout all 38 games of the season.


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