Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Is Right: Arsenal Can Win the Title Next Season

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on December 29, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a confident young man.

'The Ox' was in bullish form when asked about Arsenal's prospects for next season:

As a team we’re as good as anyone in the Premier League, right up there with the best in Europe and worldwide.

There’s a few things we need to tie up but we’ve been working hard as a team and becoming an increasingly tight unit and we’re winning games that we should win.

We have quality players in our side and believe we can beat anyone.

However, there is more than just youthful exuberance to Oxlade-Chamberlain's words. In recent months, Arsenal have undergone something of a transformation. They have become much more defensively solid and developed an ability to churn out results even when their performances are not as fluid as Arsene Wenger would like.

A glance at the Premier League’s form table shows that there is no side playing with the same consistency as the Gunners.

In the first half of the season, Arsenal were still mourning the loss of Robin van Persie. However, their new signings have since adapted and begun to gel. Arsene Wenger has rebuilt yet another team.

It has come together too late to mount any kind of challenge this season but could allow Arsenal to have a significant tilt at the title in 2013-14.

In Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, Arsene Wenger has found a central defensive partnership worthy of a top Premier League side. Mertesacker is the dominant of the pair, and organises the positional play; Koscielny has the instincts and pace to react and clear up any remaining mess.

Since dispensing with Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal’s back line has improved significantly, and Arsene Wenger and Steve Bould ought to be able to build a defence around this promising pair.

In midfield, Arsenal’s hopes rest predominantly with Jack Wilshere. The young midfielder has had a season interrupted by niggling injuries, but will consider 26 starts in 2012-13 a good return considering the 18-month layoff he had prior to this campaign.

Despite only contributing fleetingly, Wilshere was still nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year. Next season, with a full preseason under his belt, he could be a contender for the senior prize.

Alongside him, Aaron Ramsey is emerging as a genuine first-team contender. Since being redeployed in a central role, his progress has been dramatic. The Welshman now looks every inch the box-to-box midfielder Gunners fans hoped he would become.

In attack, Theo Walcott has had his best season in an Arsenal shirt. Despite a decline in his performances since securing a new contract, he’s still amassed an impressive 19 goals and 16 assistsno Arsenal player has been directly involved in more goals.

The new trio of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud has also impressed. Between them, they’ve notched 43 goals, which has helped compensate for departure of Van Persie. Having had a season to adapt to the rigours of English football, their impact could be even greater in 2013-14.

Arsenal aren’t quite there yet. The transfer window opens imminently, and Arsene Wenger will need to be busy. He could do with bringing in a goalkeeper, a right-back and certainly a striker to compete with Giroud for the centre-forward role.

If the requisite signings are made, Arsenal will suddenly look in very good shape. The Gunners’ long wait for a trophy might be approaching an end.


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