5 Reasons Why Arsenal Are 2013-14 Title Contenders
It is fair to say there is quite a bit of negativity surrounding Arsenal's chances of mounting a Premier League push in the 2013/14 season.
A transfer window which has thus far reaped little reward and a trophy cabinet that has not been updated for over eight years have ensured there is an air of pessimism about the possibility of success this time around.
Arsenal supporters should hold off on the pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, however, as all is not yet lost.
How can it be, when the season hasn't even kicked off?
Keep calm and read on, Gunners fans. Here are five reasons why your team can be a contender.
5. They Are Flying Under the Radar This Season
That seems to be the general consensus anyway.
Bookmakers have the two Manchester clubs and Jose Mourinho's side as strong favorites to win the league, with Arsenal a distant fourth.
That will suit Arsene Wenger and his chargers just fine. If the Gunners can hold their own in clashes with the "big three," then rack up points elsewhere, which they are more than capable of doing, there is a chance the other sides vying for the crown won't see them coming until it is too late in the season.
The pressure is never really off the Gunners, but expectations are the lowest they have been for quite some time.
That element of surprise might just be worth a few valuable points this campaign.
4. Santi Cazorla
The Spanish schemer was a revelation in his first Premier League campaign last season, and he can be expected to get even better with a year's experience in English football under his belt.
With 12 goals and 12 assists in 2012/13, this diminutive dynamo was one of the best playmakers in the competition.
Top class footballers lift the players around them, and that is what Wenger will be asking the Spaniard to do throughout this campaign.
If he can continue to dominate the midfield for the Gunners, or even up his game another notch, Cazorla can be the creative nucleus of a very formidable side.
3. Transfer Kitty
Much was made of the massive transfer kitty Arsenal management were reportedly given to work with this summer.
According to Sami Mokbel of The Daily Mail, Wenger was allotted at least £70 million to make purchases, as well as being granted license to increase wages in order to build an ultra-competitive squad.
Despite a host of prolific names being mentioned as possible arrivals at the Emirates, thus far the only completed purchase has been 20-year-old Frenchman Yaya Sanogo.
Reaction from Gunners fans has ranged from underwhelmed to angry at this lack of movement, after so much was promised.
Wenger can already count on a squad strong enough to push for fourth place or higher, so even if no more players arrive, though it would disappoint many, it would not be a complete disaster.
The fact that there is real intent to become a big player on the transfer market once more, as demonstrated by the dogged pursuit of Luis Suarez, augurs well for Arsenal.
There is still plenty of time before the start of the EPL season on August 17, and the closing of the transfer window on August 31, for Wenger to complete some major signings.
And if he doesn't? He will have a much better idea in December of which areas of the squad need fortifying and plenty of cash with which to do it.
2. One of the Best Defenses in the EPL
There is an understandable desire to reinforce Arsenal's back line, but even as it stands, the Gunners are in possession of a stable and, yes, formidable defensive unit.
Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker established themselves as a reliable center-back pairing by the end of last season, while Bacary Sagna and Nacho Monreal are both classy full-backs.
The club's legendary goalkeeping woes seem to be a thing of the past now, as an improved Wojciech Szczesny has become the consistent, solid presence between the sticks that was so lacking previously.
Arsenal conceded 37 goals last season, which was the second-best defensive record in the competition after Manchester City (34).
Repeat that dosage and they are giving themselves the perfect platform to mount a title challenge.
1. Arsene Wenger
It is a mystery why Arsene Wenger comes under such harsh criticism from some quarters.
The Premier League's longest serving manager has led Arsenal to 543 wins and 11 trophies and, although success has dried up in recent years, for the large part he has ensured his side remains among the game's elite, which is an achievement in itself considering the sparse resources at his disposal compared to his rivals.
It should not be forgotten that the three favorites for the title have all undergone managerial upheaval in the offseason.
Wenger offers continuity where others are in transition, and this wily old fox could prove Arsenal's trump card in 2013/14.
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