Dubai: Following a comfortable win against their North London rivals Tottenham, I think Arsenal are now the favourites to win the English Premier League.
They are now eight points clear of reigning champions Manchester City and although that is not a huge margin, I just don’t see Mikel Arteta’s Gunners dropping that many points in the second half of the season.
Sure, there is a long way still to go - 20 games in fact for them - and there are bound to be many twists and turns, but I just don’t see them being caught.
The way they are currently playing would suggest they will have the title wrapped up with several games to spare. You could argue that they may struggle to cope with being frontrunners as the season progresses due to their inexperience of being in a title race, but it is not fazing them right now. Beating their rivals Spurs in the manner in which they did is proof.
They outclassed Antonio Conte’s men to win the derby away from Emirates Stadium for the first time since March 2014. They took their chances when they were presented and then dug deep to keep Harry Kane, Song Heung-Min and Richarlison at bay. They proved to be just as good without the ball as they are with it and that was impressive. It is how titles are won. You cannot always play beautiful attacking football. You have to also be able to grind out results, and that is what they did.
From back to front, the team showed a hunger and a desire that would have really pleased Arteta. They are clear at the top of the table and now they will have to try to stay there and I think they will because it appears City are struggling at the moment. They have been beaten recently by Brentford and were held by Everton. In the Manchester derby they were desperately unfortunate to lose. Anyone who understands the game will tell you Marcus Rashford was interfering with play and Bruno Fernandes’ goal should not have stood. But Pep Guardiola will be concerned his star striker Erling Haaland is failing to find the back of the net after such a blistering start.
Looking like champions
Arteta appears to have no such concerns. His talented squad is showing a steely determination and they are already looking like champions. Many thought losing striker Gabriel Jesus would derail their campaign but it has had the opposite effect. Eddie Nketiah has led the line so well in the Brazilian’s absence.
But as I said, there is a long way to go before the fans can start dreaming however with the reigning champions not quite themselves, Liverpool languishing in mid-table, Chelsea having a nightmare and Ten Hag still rebuilding the Old Trafford club, Arsenal know this is their best chance to win their first Premier League title since the 2003-04.
They got over a big test in Spurs last time out and face another huge one next weekend when they play Ten Hag’s side.
If they come away with three more points against United then the fans really will be in dreamland.