Arsenal: What the Gunners Need to Do to Win the Premier League

Owen MorganContributor IJanuary 29, 2014

Arsenal must recover quickly after dropping points against Southampton on Tuesday night.
Arsenal must recover quickly after dropping points against Southampton on Tuesday night.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

As the Premier League edges closer to February, Arsenal are still in with a great chance of winning the title.

Arsene Wenger's side currently sit top of the table, but by dropping two points away to Southampton on Tuesday, they can be leapfrogged by both Manchester City and Chelsea on Wednesday.

If the Gunners do slip down into third place, then many prominent football pundits will feel vindicated.

Despite being top of the league throughout the busy Christmas and New Year period, not to mention amassing the most points during the 2013 calendar year, Arsenal are still an outside bet to lift the Premier League trophy. Instead, the favourites in the media are free-scoring Manchester City and a Chelsea side beginning to hit their stride under Jose Mourinho.

The lack of expectation on Arsenal can work to their advantage. As column inches are devoted to City's fearsome striking talents or Chelsea's depth of creative talent in the midfield, Arsenal have been able to fly somewhat under the radar.

Most expect the Gunners to fall away as the season progresses, with their squad too thin for them to compete properly with the might of their two title rivals.

Wenger's men may yet fall by the wayside, consigned again to the security of Champions League qualification for another season. However, they cannot yet be ruled out of running for first place.

What Arsenal must do is respond quickly to the setback of Tuesday's draw at St Mary's. The reaction to the opening-day defeat at home to Aston Villa was superb, as was the return to form following a difficult patch in December. The same response is required for a realistic title challenge to remain on track.

More dropped points in the next few games could result in Manchester City and Chelsea drawing away from Arsenal, such is their recent form.

With that in mind, the next month is crucial for the North London side. The Gunners have a great opportunity to return to winning ways this weekend when they host Crystal Palace.

Victory against Tony Pulis' resurgent outfit will not be straightforward, but with Manchester City hosting Chelsea the following evening, it presents a great chance for Arsenal to begin February on top of the table.

Following the Crystal Palace game, Wenger and his players face a season-defining few weeks, with games against Liverpool and Manchester United in the league. Arsenal also play host to Brendan Rodgers' side again in the FA Cup, not to mention the imperious Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

If Arsenal are to stay in the league title, then they cannot afford to drop points in these big games. It will not be an easy task; Liverpool were superb in their 4-0 destruction of Everton in the Merseyside derby, while Juan Mata's arrival has rejuvenated a lacklustre Manchester United.

But to win the league, Arsenal must beat those around them.

In a season that has so far been defined by the tightness of the league table, Arsenal cannot just rely on picking up points against the lower-placed sides. This is the season in which the club must look to stamp their dominance on those immediately around them, too.

To do so, Wenger needs to count on his top players to perform. Mesut Ozil's displays have tailed off slightly since his emphatic early season performances and he must rediscover his finest form in the next few weeks.

Similarly, because of the injury to Theo Walcott, those competing to establish themselves in his vacant place in the side must help out Olivier Giroud by adding goals from advanced positions in the midfield.

Lukas Podolski has impressed since his return from injury, while his German compatriot Serge Gnabry has excelled for one so young, and they must continue to produce for Wenger in the coming weeks.

If the club can strengthen in the last few days of the transfer window, then Wenger must look to bring goalscoring options into the side.

Rumours about the imminent arrival of Julian Draxler from Schalke 04 have excited Gunners' fans, and if indeed he does move before the window slams shut on Friday, he could be the catalyst for Arsenal to push through a tough month and continue their surge for the title.