The new Premier League season is a few months old and the usual suspects Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are top of the table. But a team we didn’t expect to be along with them is Arsenal. Here are 5 reasons the Gunners may be the surprise package this season:
#1 Lacazette-Aubameyang strike force
Both Lacazette and Aubameyang have repeatedly said how much they respect each other’s ability and their wish to play together. Emery could not find a way to put them in the starting line up at the beginning of the season, but once he did find a way, the pair has repaid his faith with goals.
The pair makes Arsenal a real threat up front and their understanding has undone many defences this season. If they both stay fit and keep firing like this, Arsenal may find themselves not only in the top four but challenging the title.
#2 Unai Emery
The former PSG coach replaced Arsene Wenger, who spent two decades with the Gunners. While he won the Ligue 1 title last year in his second season, PSG lost out the title to Monaco during his first season. That was embarrassing for a club whose financial power dwarfs any club in their league. His time at PSG did tarnish his image and his reported inability to handle the egos of the players in Paris certainly contributed to him leaving the club.
Therefore, not many people are expecting much of Emery’s first season at the Emirates. Two defeats in the first two matches led to critics asking if he was Wenger in disguise. But since then Arsenal have been on a winning spree, which has propelled them to fourth in the league. One should also remember that Emery has won three consecutive Europa League titles with Sevilla. And Arsenal is playing in the Europa League this season. The Gunners have every reason to get excited.
#3 Depth in midfield
While the news of Aaron Ramsey leaving the club next summer for free will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the Gunners, Arsenal has brought in two midfielders to give Granit Xhaka competition and keep him at his heels.
Lucas Torreira had a good World Cup with Uruguay and has continued that form at Arsenal, bringing them a much-needed stability to the midfield. Matteo Guendouzi was also bought this summer. While he is young and inexperienced, he did show a fearless attitude when tackling as well as the bravery to play long passes. If Emery manages him right he can polish the French player into a diamond.
Then there is Ozil who will always have to prove his worth, and does it time and again. This season he will be determined to show his new manager what he is capable of. He will also want to move on from the political debacle he has endured in Germany and show everyone he is not a politician, but a football player. Add Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the mix and you can see Arsenal boast a good depth in midfield.
The last few seasons of Arsene Wenger were marked with stability issues on and off the pitch. Frequent fan protests along with banners flying over the stadium demanding the sacking of the Frenchman became a regular scene. With Wenger gone, Arsenal has entered a new era. While the fans are wary of what happened to their eternal rivals Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson left, the instability at Old Trafford has taken the attention off the Emirates stadium.
This season Manchester United has been embroiled with issues on and off the pitch. While Arsenal suffered defeats in the two opening games, they have steadied their ship with a run of wins. That has silenced critics and fans are finally enjoying some good football at the Emirates. As the Red Devils continue to struggle, a season of stability and quiet is just what Arsenal need to safely navigate the post-Wenger era.