Arsenal Close To Ending Trophy Drought with Manchester United's Loss?
First of all, let's get Arsenal's four-goal slip up out of the way so we can focus solely on their title credentials this term. On a frantic weekend of Premier League matches, a total of record 39 goals were fired into the net, with major contributions coming from the Arsenal-Newcastle and Everton-Blackpool clashes, each producing staggering eight-goal dramas.
Out of all the high-scoring affairs, perhaps one game in particular caught the attention of pundits and fans worldwide. For the first time in history a Premiership team has surrendered a four-goal lead and draw.
St James' Park exploded with uproars when their team executed the unthinkable, scoring four times in half an hour albeit the lack of defensive presence in the opposition's midfield and two rather controversial penalty decisions.
While pundits busily start belittling Arsenal's grit and determination to become champions, what everyone might've forgotten is that the unbeaten United suffered a come from behind defeat against relegation threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers while Chelsea were clean swept by a resurgent Liverpool.
Only Manchester City and Tottenham picked up maximum points from the elite group; Arsenal gained one and the aforementioned two received none.
February is often deemed one of the most crucial months that define and separate champions from rest of the contending pack. When clear at the top, United rarely donate cheap points away, especially against bottom-dwellers, so could the out-of-norm loss signal a potential change of guard at top of the EPL pecking order?
Widely perceived as the biggest underachievers in world football, Arsenal are hoping to end their five year trophy drought and are well on course this season four points off leaders.
There seems to be a special glaring aura around the Gunners this time introducing a much more affirmative claim as serious title contender.
There are several factors as to why I'm labelling them as special this year that include the mercurial rise of of several youngsters, the fairytale comeback of Robin van Persie, ending the big game/Chelsea voodoo, staying competent on all fronts as well as muscling up to the rigours of the physically challenging league.
It's quite unusual to have the above included in Arsenal's annual resume. Maybe United's sluggish performance on Saturday is quietly crossing out more woes on Arsenal's list of worries.
Theo Walcott was brought into Arsenal as a teenager from the renowned Southampton academy. Over the years, Theo has endured constant scrutiny and criticism from the media and coaches for his apparent lack of footballing IQ. This season Walcott has scored an impressive seven times from just 10 starts. Wenger's investment is finally starting to show glimpses of superstardom thus paying dividends.
Across to the other flank, Samir Nasri is leading Arsenal in goal scoring with scintillating touches and newfound chemistry with Fabregas and Wilshere, another starlet on the rise. The unnoticed hero by the name of Alex Song must have opted for a new hairdresser; the golden globe on top of his head is definitely grooming him confidence scoring crucial goals against Man City, Chelsea and West Brom.
United's loss is:
Meanwhile, van Persie has thrust back into the spotlight scoring on a regular basis at the moment, including a double on the weekend. He could prove to be the edge or the X-factor if Gunners are to mount continuous challenge until end of the season.
For the past couple of seasons, crunch meetings with other members of the 'big four' had all ended in demoralising losses. Chelsea's 3-0 stroll in the park last season exemplified the sheer strength and grit lacked by Arsenal's first team. This year, however, the big match jinx has been broken with a crushing 3-1 victory over Chelsea.
United's uncharacteristic slip up and Chelsea's sluggish form just compound all the positive developments above, all indicative of a historic season for Arsenal. So could this finally be the year?
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