The Dreamers Guide to Arsenal Winning the League
Today is the 19th of October and we are now over a quarter of the way through the Premier League season and Arsenal remain top of the league by 4 points. Arsenal fans around the world are asking themselves existential questions like “Can we REALLY win a title?” or “Is it too early to dream?” and for the next few minutes, I am going to try and dream for a bit and think what it will actually take for Arsenal to win the league. Something that hasn’t happened in 18 years, and something that no Arsenal fan realistically expected to happen anytime soon.
What brought me to write this in the first place was Arsenal’s chaotic victory over Leeds this weekend. This was a match that Arsenal have lost in years past and one that luck (aka VAR) played a massive role in which tends to rarely swing in Arsenal’s favor. Arsenal have played some sensational football this year, however Sunday afternoon was not one of those days. We were straight up bad- yet we walked away with all three points.
One of the key ingredients for winning a title is to get wins even when not at your best. There are 7-8 good teams in the Premier League, and when at their best any of them play with enough quality to get results against anyone, but teams just don’t play well for 38 matches a season. Arsenal want to be a great team and to be a great team you have to scrape together results. To turn draws into wins, and losses into draws. Look back to the final day of the season last year, Manchester City were losing to Aston Villa and were playing terribly but they scraped out the win to secure the title. It happens each and every week, one of the top 6 teams will drop points to a mid-low tabled opponent. If Arsenal want to win the title we need more wins like the one against Leeds.
The next key ingredient for winning a title is health. It is no secret that Arsenal do not have a very deep squad. While that may (and probably must) change after the January transfer window, for now Arsenal have a very thin squad. We strengthened in some key areas over the summer, but the pressure points are still there. Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus are as close to irreplaceable in this Arsenal team as you can get and if Arsenal are going to lift the trophy this spring, the injury woes that have plagued us in previous years has got to change.
The next key ingredient is post-world cup chaos. Make no mistake, this season is unlike anything we have experienced before. I know we said that about the ‘Project Restart’ but this feels different. There are basically two seasons, separated by an 8 week break for the World Cup. The unfortunate reality is that there is going to be some teams who get unlucky; their players may go off to the world cup and get an unfortunate injury, or go deep in the competition only to return to their club either disappointed or elated and unmotivated. If Arsenal are going to win the league, we first can’t afford any major injuries. I can tell it is going to be a mad dash to the finish line with the fixture congestion this season. I am not sure if we are going to see any 100 point teams this year because there are too many fixtures too close together for anyone to really play consistent, high quality football post-world cup. This is where the chaos comes in. We are hoping for plenty of upsets around the league, some wild red card suspensions, VAR-fueled controversy. Bring it all and hope Arsenal come out of the madness on top.
The final key ingredient for winning a title is no Europa league or FA Cup. Sorry to those people who dreamed of Arsenal lifting a Europa League or FA Cup trophy this year. Look at what happened to Liverpool last season, who struggled down the stretch as they were attempting to win the Champions League, Premier League AND the FA Cup all at once. Arsenal just don’t have the squad to handle playing at the top of our potential in more than one competition. It may be a tough pill to swallow in February if Mikel Arteta chooses to sacrifice an FA Cup round for the sake of a Premier League match against a team like Brighton but trust me the parade in May will be worth it in the end.
I hope that Arsenal fans do take the time to dream about winning a title. I know I am traumatized by seasons past to really truly believe we can do something special this year. There is a lot of luck needed to take on Manchester City but sometimes a team can just ride their luck all the way to a title (Leicester City). That is what part of being a fan of a club is about. We aren’t responsible for the team talks, and to keep the squad thinking one match at a time, we can overreact and let the emotions get the best of us. That’s all part of the fun, and if Arsenal do win the title come may we can all say the dreaming was worth it.