Thursday, 12 August 2010

Arsenal's title race isn't over before the season's begun

I think many Gooners are in need of a reality check prior to the first whistle of the season.

Maybe it's just the Gooners I associate with online and down the pub, but many seem to be writing off our chances of winning the league before we''ve kicked a ball in anger.

Are they right? Are we weaker than we were at this point last season?

I don't think so.

Last summer we shipped out Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor, recruiting just Thomas Vermaelen in place of the Ivorian.

But we managed to perform well enough to not only keep our place within the top four, but to go one better than our league position the previous season and move into third spot.

And this was when we were supposedly weaker from the sale of two internationals and the spending of Manchester City were going to make them a "real force" in the Premier League.

Oh how I laugh when I remember Sky Sports promotional material of the Premier League last summer when they picked their four teams to advertise the league as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Two of those finished outside the top four and it was ourselves and our neighbours who eased into those berths at the top of the league.

Can I see us finishing outside the top four this season? No. 

Will we put a meaningful fight up for the title? Yes.

Are we a finished article as of August 13? No.

Will we be by the time the transfer window closes? Only Arsene Wenger can answer that one at this stage.

I will grant you that our defence needs more reinforcements, but I cannot envisage us playing Bolton at the Grove with just Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny and possibly Havard Nordtveit as our only central defenders at the club.

And the goalkeeping situation isn't much clearer either. Mark Schwarzer is apparently desperate to join us. We have Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski - neither of who have made themselves undisputed number one. And then there is Vito Mannone and Wojciceh Szczesny who are considered too young to be a top flight goalkeeper for a Champions League team at this stage in their career.
Arsene will have calculated whether we can negotiate Liverpool, Blackpool and Blackburn with the squad we have.

And baring any last minute signings prior to the Premier League registration deadline of 5pm on Friday, I believe our squad is strong enough to cope with the Anfield test.

It's not as though Liverpool pulled up any trees last season. In fact they went backwards.

At this point in the season I feel it is not healthy to have such a downer on the current team. It's not the finished article by any means, but it will be strong enough to beat Liverpool.

A full assessment of our chances can only be made once the transfer window closes.

But Gooners the 11 who take to the field on Sunday must have our full support and I'm sure, like me, you are eagerly awaiting kick off.

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