English Premiership

Arsenal plot end to title wait

2015-08-06 09:43
Alexis Sanchez (Getty Images)

London - As Arsenal's players frolicked in the Wembley sunshine and their vanquished opponents beat a retreat, it was easy to imagine Community Shield success as a harbinger of Premier League glory.

A troublesome rival who had inflicted several painful defeats on Arsene Wenger's side had finally been put in their place by the FA Cup holders with a vibrant display that bore the hallmark of potential champions.

But within two months of that 3-0 rout of reigning champions Manchester City in August 2014, the Gunners' title challenge was in tatters amid bitter recriminations about Wenger's failure to strengthen his squad.

So 12 months on, with optimism once again abounding at the Emirates Stadium following last weekend's 1-0 win against champions Chelsea in the Community Shield, the anti-climatic aftermath of that victory over City should serve as a cautionary tale.

Arsenal know they must make a faster start than last year to avoid being cast adrift of the leaders and Per Mertesacker, their German defender, has warned his team-mates against getting carried away.

"We have had a great pre-season so far, and the peak was winning the Community Shield, but any significant predictions from the game are very difficult," Mertesacker said.

"It was a good test for both teams a week before the season. Everyone has to adjust a bit now. We have good form, so whether we can keep that and start the season well is the key."

Without question Arsenal have improved since the dog days of last December, when a loss at Stoke City prompted furious fans to verbally abuse Wenger as he boarded a train home, yet they still have to turn tantalising potential into tangible rewards.

It should help Arsenal's cause that they finally seem to have solved their problems in matches against their fellow title contenders.

Tormented by a miserable run of 15 games without a win against English teams who had qualified for the Champions League the previous season, Arsenal's belief has soared since a victory at City in January.

That watchful 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium sparked a surge that brought a third-place finish and a 4-0 thrashing of Aston Villa to retain the FA Cup.

Arsenal's attacking play against Villa reached the kind of majestic heights last seen by Gunners fans when their famous 'Invincibles' won the club's most recent title in 2004.

But Wenger's commitment to his purist principles has never been in question and his latest group of creative talents -- Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, stands comparison with any other collection of attacking players in the top tier.

It is the defensive side of the game that has often been Arsenal's Achilles heel, so it was encouraging for Wenger that his players were able to produce a dogged and tactically mature display to protect their first-half lead against Chelsea last Sunday.

Crucially, Wenger has managed to lure Petr Cech away from Chelsea, a $15.6 million investment that should give Arsenal the kind of assured presence in goal they have lacked since the days of Jens Lehmann.

With Cech delivering a typically solid display against his old club, fans and players are queueing up to claim Arsenal at last have the steely spine needed to wrestle the title away from Stamford Bridge.

And Mertesacker is hopeful that the obdurate rearguard action at Wembley will not prove to have been a false dawn once the bullets start flying in the title battle.

"The title race is decided by details and which team can maintain a good spirit, that level of focus which is vital throughout the season," he said.

"Chelsea have shown it and we have to step up and do more than last season, so that is the question for us. We asked the question to ourselves and you could see we really want to compete and do the next step."

Read more on:    arsenal  |  english premiership  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
30 October 2016
Everton v West Ham United, Goodison Park 15:30
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
31 October 2016
Stoke City v Swansea City, Britannia Stadium 22:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2016/17 season?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.