Mesut Ozil Will Not Lead Arsenal to the Premier League Title, Says Alan Hansen
Not only does Hansen believe the Mesut Ozil-inspired Gunners will not win the league, but he is also tipping them to finish only fourth this campaign.
Arsenal top the Premier League but they will not win title, says Alan Hansen. Their frailties will be laid bare. http://t.co/tvs73gKLJD— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) October 28, 2013
Hansen wrote in Monday morning's paper:
Despite their hugely impressive reaction since losing to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, which has enabled them to move clear at the top of the table, I still believe that Arsenal will end the campaign in fourth place.
Last season’s top three—Manchester United, City and Chelsea—will be there again, but not necessarily in that order, leaving Arsenal to claim fourth.
Arsenal's credentials as title challengers are very much the talking point of the moment, with the Gunners flying high at the top of the Premier League table after nine fixtures.
However, heading into November, Tottenham and Swansea are the only two top-half sides that Arsenal have thus far encountered. Furthermore, over the next two months, matches are set to become considerably more challenging.
Hansen pinpoints Arsenal's play without the ball as the main reason for why they will not challenge this season. It has been a major weakness of the side in previous campaigns.
He also believes that the lack of a strong leader within the side will see Arsenal struggle to respond when a bad run of form does eventually hit:
Despite the signing of Özil, who has been a great success, I still do not see a leader on the pitch when I look at Arsenal. They do not have a Roy Keane, Graeme Souness or Patrick Vieira, somebody who can bring it all together when it goes wrong, but they will need one when the bad run comes along.
My fear for Arsenal is that when their bad patch arrives, they will take an awful lot longer to emerge from it than teams such as Chelsea or City, who have already bounced back from slumps this season.
When it goes wrong for Arsenal, it will be really bad, which is why I do not see them challenging for the title.
Despite their relatively straightforward opposition, Arsenal have been conceding an average of a goal per game in league matches this season, and cannot afford to do likewise when faced with better opponents.
With Dortmund and Napoli both level with the Gunners on six points in the Champions League, and Arsenal facing a trip to Germany next, we will soon find out much more about the character of Arsene Wenger's side on all fronts.
They have never lost the ability to beat lesser sides comfortably in the Premier League, but have struggled against better sides—earning just seven points in 10 games against Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton last season per ESPN FC's Michael Cox.
Now, though, the pressure will really be on as they seek to prove themselves to be a changed side. For now, Hansen is more than justified in his comments.
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