Why Arsenal Are the Team Most Likely to Break the Manchester Monopoly

Max TowleAnalyst IAugust 12, 2012

Image via Soccerplay.net
Image via Soccerplay.net

"I just feel that, one way or another, the title will stay in Manchester."

Now who spoke these provocative words? Sir Alex Ferguson? Liam Gallagher?

Surely a partisan ex-player or supporter of either United or City?

Nope. The answer is none another than ex-Gunners boss George Graham, who in a recent interview with British tabloid The Mirror, revealed a preseason prediction that is sure to rankle with fans of his former club.

For the record, I believe there may be some truth in what he says.

It is a brave man who goes against the grain, and to forecast the Premier League trophy leaving its comfortable home in Manchester next May would indeed take bravery in abundance.

United are the barnacle at the top of the table that is impossible to remove, the irrepressible staple of consistency.

It is getting increasingly difficult to spot any flaws in the City system, leaving detractors with the vain hope that complacency will creep into Roberto Mancini's superstars' game this season.

Sure George Graham has a point, but just because "former Arsenal boss" is a tag permanently fixed before his name, that doesn't mean he's right.

Forgetting for one moment Chelsea, who have a supremely talented squad managed by a supremely under-qualified manager (and I know I'll get stick for that one, but I'm sorry, winning the Champions League doesn't automatically make you capable of succeeding over a 38 game league campaign).

And forgetting Tottenham and Liverpool who, with new managers, will both need time to grow into their respective systems.

Arsenal are the team left with the greatest chance of breaking the assumed monopoly of the Manchester behemoths.

Starting with last season's campaign, Arsene Wenger has, for the first time in a long time, been able to put out a team with an average age of more than 24.

But that's not to say that they'll be without their share of youthful exuberance—Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will certainly play a big part in his team's title chase.

Arteta and Song (if he stays at the club) are two of the best holding midfielders playing in Britain, whilst with a healthy Thomas Vermaelen and the improved Laurent Koscielny, there will be great confidence in Arsenal's spine.

New signing Santi Cazorla will provide a roaming flair similar to the role played by City's own Spanish genius David Silva, dragging wide players Gervinho and Walcott into relevance kicking and screaming.

And last but not least there's Arsene Wenger, who has been indisputably the second greatest manager in Britain over the past twenty years, and who, make no mistake, hasn't yet forgotten what it takes to win the big one.

Because there is something that feels different, unfamiliar even, about the club's preparation for this season.

The summer started off with such pessimism and uncertainty that it could only improve with each passing day.

That, once the majority of fans had resigned themselves to having to accept whatever Robin van Persie's fate may be—to a "stay or go, we'll be alright either way" mentality—optimism surely followed.

An optimism that has been absent for far too long.

An optimism that is founded in genuine belief, rather than blind faith.

And look at that, I almost got through an entire article about Arsenal Football Club without mentioning the wantaway Dutchman.

Oh well, maybe next time.