As exciting as it might be for Arsenal to lead the Premier League and finally have themselves a true global football star in Mesut Ozil, it’s hard to ignore the fact that their schedule up to this point has been extremely easy, and that we’ll learn a lot more about Arsene Wenger and his title credentials in the next couple of months.
The rivals Arsenal have played against so far?
- Aston Villa, who are 13th at the moment. Arsenal lost to them at home in the opening day of the season.
- Fulham, beating them 3-1. 14th Right now, with tons of pressure on Martin Jol.
- Tottenham. The only top 10 teams Arsenal have played this season. Weren’t very convincing, but did win 1-0.
- Sunderland, the worst team in the Premier League, with only one point so far.
- Stoke City, one of the more disappointing sides this season, currently 16th.
- West Brom, who they drew against away from home, at the moment 12th.
- Swansea City, another slightly disappointing team, at 11th right now.
- Norwich City, 18th in the league.
Compared to last season, when Arsenal got the full 24 points from these parallel fixtures, Arsenal only “won” 19 this time around. However, the past is never a good thing to delve too much on. The real issue is what waits for Arsenal until Christmas begins, which happens to be a very tough schedule.
After playing Crystal Palace this weekend, the road becomes quite difficult: Hosting Liverpool, followed by a visit to Old Trafford against Manchester United, hosting Southampton, 6th at the moment, playing in Cardiff, hosting Hull, hosting Everton, visiting Manchester City and hosting Chelsea before beginning Christmas with two away matches against West Ham and Newcastle.
A real gauge of just how good and “for real” Arsenal are will be shown after getting through that series of matches, which is peppered with Hull and Cardiff, but is mostly a very difficult stretch to get through unscathed, just like the other top teams in England have been drawing blood from each other so far.
So as good as Mesut Ozil has been, and it’s not always his ability that takes center stage but simply his influence in the middle of the pitch on the players around him, their excellent record so far this season might have more to do with some luck when the fixtures were being made.
What is evident about Arsenal is increased depth in the midfield. The arrival of Flamini was under-appreciated at the time, but it just might be the best signing Wenger has made this summer. His injury at the moment (which shouldn’t keep him off the pitch for too long) means that the pressure is once again on Mikel Arteta to hold the defensive midfield, while Aaron Ramsey will probably help him carry the load.
An injury elsewhere, most notably to Olivier Giroud, who has no cover in the form of a decent backup striker, as even Theo Walcott is currently injured, will be a bit harder to overcome for the gunners.