Source: Arsenal FC via Twitter
After a slow start to the season Arsenal are hitting their stride to announce their arrival in the Premier League title race, sitting just two points off the pace of the leading three teams. Unai Emery was handed a tough opening fortnight to his reign, facing the reigning champions Manchester City and then on the road to Chelsea. Both matches ended in defeats, although their loss at Stamford Bridge was a fascinating contest that could have gone either way. Since then the Gunners have reeled off six wins on the bounce, making up the lost ground on their rivals at the top of the table.

Emery’s men were not considered one of the leading contenders for the Premier League crown given their struggles under Arsene Wenger last term. However, there is optimism that the club have found their stride with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang providing a potent goal threat in the final third. Arsenal are backed in the latest Premier League betting odds at 40/1 to win the crown, which is good value, although the Gunners are yet to prove their calibre against the elite teams in the division.

The opening match of the season was Groundhog Day for Arsenal fans as their side were outplayed by a rival. Manchester City’s passing was slick, cutting the hosts open with relative ease, while the Gunners struggled to make headway themselves as Pep Guardiola’s men secured a comfortable 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium. A similar story unfolded in the opening 20 minutes of their clash away against Chelsea as Pedro and Alvaro Morata put the Blues into an early lead. Emery’s men issued a strong response to level the scores before half-time through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi. Arsenal were unable to hold out for a draw with Marcos Alonso netting a late winner. Despite the defeat there were positives to take from the contest that would help the team develop over the next six weeks.

Source: Mail Sport via Twitter

After falling behind early to West Ham, Emery’s side bounced back into form to secure their first win of the campaign with a 3-1 triumph. Their next game against Cardiff on the road was a back-and-forth affair, but the Gunners produced the quality when they needed it to emerge with the three points courtesy of a fine goal from Lacazette. Following those victories, Arsenal began to find their form with straightforward wins over Newcastle, Everton and Watford. The strongest signal yet that the Gunners are working their way back into contention was their dismantling of Fulham at Craven Cottage. They should have been well clear of the Cottagers at half-time after Lacazette put his team ahead, only for Andre Schurrle to equalise before the interval.

Arsenal teams of the past may have cracked under the same pressure, but Emery’s men took control and played outstanding football to put Fulham to the sword, displaying ruthless efficiency in the final third. There are promising signs that the Gunners are working their way back towards being serious contenders for the Premier League title. They’ve shown resolve to bounce back and have the firepower to match their rivals at the top. Their back four remains a concern and that could be the main difference between them and sides of City, Liverpool and Chelsea’s ilk come the end of the term.

Overall, the 2017/18 campaign was a disappointment for Manchester United, who struggled to challenge their rivals for the season’s major honours. 

Jose Mourinho’s side had to sit back and watch Manchester City win the Premier League emphatically, with their city rivals smashing a number of records along the way. In Europe too, Man United had to sit back and watch Liverpool reach the Champions League final, and although the Reds weren’t victorious, they lit up the competition with their attractive style of attacking football. 

The Red Devils struggled to do what Liverpool did, with their style slated by many and Mourinho mocked for his negative style of football. Work is already underway at Old Trafford as they prepare for the new season, with Fred one player already signed ahead of next season. 

Another deal has been secured, with Marouane Fellaini committing his future to the club by signing a new two-year deal, which also has the option of a third. It’s safe to say that the Belgian’s decision to sign on again has divided Man United’s fanbase, and there is certainly a case for both sides of that argument. 

 

Currently, Man City remain overwhelming favourites to win the Premier League next season, with Pep Guardiola’s side priced at 4/7 with bet365’s Premier League betting market, whilst even Liverpool are shorter odds than Mourinho’s side at this stage of the summer. 

Of course, Fellaini committing to the Red Devils isn’t going to be something that swings the title race back in Man United’s favour, but he could be a useful weapon to have on board as Mourinho tries to topple Guardiola. 
Mourinho has refused to change his style despite City’s dominance, with Man United a very physical side – Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic are just a number of the powerful players favoured at Old Trafford. It is probably too late, with too much money spent, for Mourinho to overhaul his squad and style. If his side are to topple City, they will have to do it their own way. 

Fellaini has been key to that style, with his performances at the World Cup 2018 further highlighting how dangerous he can be. Like at Old Trafford, the 30-year-old midfielder isn’t a guaranteed starter, but he can offer so much. 

 

In Belgium’s 1-0 victory over England at the Group Stage, he was a constant threat to Gareth Southgate’s side, with his aerial strength and sheer awkwardness causing problems. 

That type of performance is what Fellaini is renowned for, particularly from during his days at Everton. 
Of course, playing to his strengths will help Man United, but it isn’t likely to be well received. However, it is certainly a different way Mourinho can try to overhaul City and their other rivals. 

There has been an edge at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, with Mourinho, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal unable to lead Manchester United to a Premier League trophy. 

That unsettled environment has shone through with the announcement of Fellaini’s new deal. For now, supporters are going to have to trust Mourinho’s judgement and take the positives from what we’ve seen from Fellaini in Russia.