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.
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.