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Can Manchester City Catch Arsenal?

Etihad Stadium, Manchester City Football Club
Ank kumar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another dominating performance and convincing 4-1 win versus Crystal Palace on 19th March pushed Arsenal 8 points clear of title rivals Manchester City yesterday, albeit with an extra game played. With 10 games left for the Gunners do they have what’s necessary to secure their first Premier League since the 2003/04 season?

Arsenal has undoubtedly been one of the best teams in the Premier League this season and Mikel Arteta has seemed to have really created a confident and tactically astute team. Signings Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus from their rivals Manchester City have fit in instantly and appear to have brought a winning mentality to the squad. Leandro Trossard, signed in January, has once again shown Arsenal’s intelligent scouting team as he has continued the free-flowing attack Arsenal have created, filling in brilliantly as the Arsenal frontline experienced injuries.

Some of Arsenal’s recent results have shown they are not willing to give Manchester City an easy challenge coming into the final stages of the season. The comebacks versus Aston Villa away on 18th February and Bournemouth at home on 4th March display the quality and composure needed to win trophies in football. Particularly versus Bournemouth, Mikel Arteta provided evidence for his in-game management and his level of awareness to make changes when necessary. All the substitutes were instrumental in completing that come back and they have been very effective throughout this season also. The victory against Crystal Palace yesterday provided even more evidence of their desire to win this league. After being knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday via a penalty shootout at home, there were very valid questions on how this could affect the team morale. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What we saw vs Crystal Palace was a performance we have seen over and over again this season by Arsenal. The front three were electric as usual: Bukayo Saka taking the headlines this game, the midfield controlled and composed whilst also helping the front three when attacking and despite William Saliba’s injury a defence that looked solid throughout.

The possible threat of Arsenal not getting this league title over the line comes down to three main fixtures: Liverpool away, Newcastle United away and Manchester City away. These on paper are the toughest fixtures in their final 10 games. After themselves, Manchester City and Liverpool have the best home records this season and Newcastle is not far behind having only lost once at home in the league. The most important game is undoubtedly against Manchester City. The momentum going into the final games if either team were to win could be the difference maker in deciding who lifts the trophy. Manchester City is still fighting in two other competitions which could put a strain on the players physically and mentally. Arsenal, on the other hand, has only the Premier League to focus on now and this could play a pivotal role in the outcome of the season.

Manchester City hasn’t been their almost perfect self this season. However, they are still one of the best teams in Europe. Erling Haaland alone would scare any opponent and his average of a goal per game in the Premier League is by far the best out of all players. In the two meetings between Manchester City and Arsenal this season, City have won both, one in the league and one in the FA Cup. For Arsenal to go to the Etihad and win would be a huge statement and would prove their worth of being the best team in the league this season. It is difficult to see Pep Guardiola’s team losing at home, however, this will be their toughest challenge yet. The result of this game could be a very big indicator of who will be crowned champions of the Premier League.

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