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Should Arsenal Now Be Considered Title Favourites?

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's second goal from the penalty spot with Theo Walcott during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at The Britannia Stadium on February 27, 2010 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Ieuan BeynonCorrespondent IIIMarch 1, 2010

After their comeback against Stoke on Saturday, Arsenal showed they have the fighting spirit they are so often accused of lacking. Pair this with yet another defeat for Chelsea and the title race is again wide open.

Going into the last 2 months of the season it is a three horse race for this years Premier League, with the Gunners and Chelsea there is also Manchester United.

Arsene Wengers men certainly have the most favourable run in and avoid going up against any of the 'big four'. The toughest tests his side face are a North London derby against Tottenham and Manchester City visiting the Emirates. Tricky fixtures? Yes. Can they win both of the games? Unquestionably.

But it is not these games that will determine whether or not Arsenal will be right there when the World Cup is on the horizon in May.

Rather it will be the next five league games that will shape their season. With home games against Burnley, West Ham and Wolves, along with trips to Hull and Birmingham.

With 15 points available this is a massive opportunity for them to establish a lead at the top of the table.

There are a couple of factors that will prove to be decisive in the coming months. Firstly do Arsenal have the firepower in attack to launch a genuine challenge for the crown. With only Nicklas Bendtner, Eduardo and Carlos Vela fit there is little experience and a lack of a natural goalscorer. Secondly Cesc Fabregas, if Fabregas is firing on all cylinders then this team is so much better. With him and Abou Diaby pushing forward and controlling the game the first point may be overlooked. But if either are injured or experience a dip in form then you start to worry about The Gunners.

There isn't really any strength and depth, especially when you take into account the horrific injury sustained by Aaron Ramsey at the weekend. Tomas Rosicky or Theo Walcott cannot be relied on due to persistant injury problems.

Then there is the goalkeeper debate, I personally think that Manuel Alumina has the necessary tools to do the job. He may be a bit erratic at times but I think he will prove more than able untill the end of the season at least, then if Mr Wenger feels it a priority to replace him in the summer then so be it.

Overall though I think their title challenge hinges on one thing, the form of Fabregas, if he is fit and performing they will be there come May. If not then they will be where they are now in 3rd position.

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