Arsenal must now be considered favorites to win the Premier League. They are clearly going to require some shifting from the top of the table.
The only unknown about Mikel Arteta’s team is how they will handle being frontrunners in the second half of the season. But it doesn’t appear that their lack of experience in a title race is bothering them right now.
Their superb win over Tottenham Hotspur in north London on Sunday was further proof of that.
We saw their attacking intent and creativity in the first half, pressing Spurs to keep them penned in their own half and then capitalizing on their mistakes.
Arsenal had to do more defending in the second half, but they were just as good without the ball, and when Tottenham did break through, Aaron Ramsdale came up big to keep them out.
I was really impressed with their entire team, from front to back, and it appears that they have the necessary steel – plus a bit of bite and hunger – that they will require in the coming months.
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Arteta seems to be prepared for anything.
A look at the top of the Premier League: Arsenal came in first, followed by Manchester City, Newcastle, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Fulham.
Being eight points ahead after 18 games is a fantastic achievement for this Arsenal team, and it is well deserved.
They must now attempt to maintain their position, and many of their players have already learned the hard way how quickly things can change. They faded in the final weeks of last season, missing out on a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League when the opportunity was there.
But, as I’ve said since the start of the season, this looks like a different Gunners team in terms of mentality, and Arteta and his coaching staff have another year of experience as well.
Arteta has assembled a talented squad with a positive attitude, and they appear to be at ease with what he wants them to do.
They are strong in every position and have overcome every injury they have suffered, including Gabriel Jesus, who was so important for them at the start of the season but has not played since the World Cup. Eddie Nketiah has led the line so well that Jesus has not been overlooked.
Tactically, Arteta appears to be prepared for anything. On Sunday, he certainly out-thought Tottenham manager Antonio Conte with his gameplan, especially in the first half, when Arsenal appeared to have an extra man in every area of the pitch.
The following players started for Arsenal against Tottenham: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Martinelli, and Nketiah.
Of course, there are still some significant obstacles to overcome: they must play Manchester City twice more before facing a resurgent Manchester United side next weekend.
But when you’re at the top, every game is important, and they’re looking really strong right now, no matter who they play. They are clearly filled with confidence, and it appears that they will be difficult to stop.
Can Manchester United compete for the title?
The entire weekend went very well for Arsenal – it always helps when your nearest title rivals go wrong, as City did with their defeat in Saturday’s Manchester derby.
The defending champions were unlucky with United’s equalizer, which I felt should have been called offside, and that goal changed the game completely.
I don’t see City relinquishing their title without a fight, and they aren’t the only ones who could challenge Arsenal from here.
I understand why people are talking about Manchester United again, because they are flying right now, riding a hot streak, and Erik ten Hag has made incredible progress with his team in a short period of time.
You can’t rule out Manchester United right now because they play at Emirates Stadium next Sunday. If they win that game, you’d have to say they’re right in the hunt; however, if Arsenal defeats them, their title hopes are over.
Newcastle United, like Manchester United, is only one point behind City despite having played one more game.
However, I would not consider Newcastle to be a title contender. In fact, despite the difficulties faced by some of the teams below them, I still believe they will finish in the top four.
Tottenham’s defeat on Sunday was good news for Eddie Howe’s team because Spurs are still in the hunt and pose a threat. We saw how they finished last season to deny Arsenal a place in the Champions League.
I also believe Chelsea will improve after their recent poor form as players return from injury, but Liverpool appear to be miles away at the moment.
Jurgen Klopp’s team is currently terrible at the back, with no intensity when pressing.
They appear to be a shadow of the side we are used to seeing at the top of the table, and I don’t see things improving anytime soon – it will be a long, hard season for them.
I’d rather see Newcastle win a cup than finish in the top four.
Of course, Newcastle fans are having a very different experience right now, and I am loving every minute of it.
Howe is doing an excellent job, and this weekend’s late win over Fulham was another big result for him.
It felt flat from the start – from the players and even from the fans – which was understandable given the excitement of Newcastle’s midweek win over Leicester, which advanced them to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Newcastle didn’t play well on Sunday and needed some luck with Aleksandar Mitrovic’s missed penalty, but the goal was to get the three points regardless of how they got them.
Finishing in the Champions League places would be fantastic, but the opportunity to win silverware means the most to me.
My ambition for this season is to win a trophy, preferring the Carabao Cup to finishing in the top four.
Obviously, I’d like to see both happen, but given the choice, I’d take silverware every time. It’s far more significant to me.
Newcastle last won a trophy in 1969, when they won the Fairs Cup, which evolved into the Europa League.
That was before I was born, so it’s been a long time since we’ve won anything.