It’s been almost two decades since Arsenal last lifted the Premier League trophy. It came in phenomenal fashion, of course, with The Invincibles lifting the trophy in the 2003/04 campaign without losing a single match.
The years since then, however, have been barren. The Gunners have watched the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City all increase their league title count, with Liverpool and Leicester each grabbing a title over the years.
The north London outfit have come close to just their fourth Premier League title on two occasions, finishing in the runners-up spot in 2004/05 and 2015/16. Current boss Mikel Arteta was a squad member in that latter title charge. Other than that, it has been a tough time to be an Arsenal fan in terms of showing promise in the league.
Their next success, should it arrive, will be the club’s 14th English league title overall. But can that success happen as early as this season?
Having picked up 75 points in his first 50 matches in the Arsenal dugout, Arteta has picked up 100 points from his second 50 matches in charge, with the recent win over Fulham representing his 100th match in the Arsenal hot seat.
Arsenal off to perfect start in new campaign
The Gunners have made a blistering start to the new Premier League season. Arteta’s side currently sit top of the table after four matches, winning all four. The club have scored 11 goals, and have conceded just three.
They have, of course, been given a helping hand through the likes of potential league challengers Man City, Liverpool, and Chelsea all dropping points in the early stages of the campaign.
All three picked up wins at the weekend, but have previously dropped points to keep them behind the Gunners at the top. City currently sit second, with Chelsea and Liverpool in sixth and ninth respectively.
Aside from likely winners City, it is perhaps, fierce north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur that Arsenal will be most wary of in these early stages. Antonio Conte’s side remain unbeaten from their opening four games, with three wins and one draw.
Alongside the league focus, the Gunners will be quietly confident of soon going on a successful European run. Arteta’s side have been drawn to face PSV, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich in Group A of the Europa League.
Summer transfers playing key role
Arsenal haven’t always got it right in the transfer windows over the years, with a handful of their incomings failing to make any lasting impact upon arrival. The situation is epitomised by the fact that winger Nicolas Pepe remains the club’s record signing at £72m.
The Ivory Coast international simply couldn’t get going in England, and has recently joined Ligue 1 side Nice on a season-long loan deal. The move may just signal the beginning of a permanent exit from the club.
But things have changed in recent times, with the likes of William Saliba, Ben White, Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale and Thomas Partey representing the beginning of a new era for the Gunners’ fate in the transfer window.
This superb trend has continued this summer through the arrivals of Man City duo Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Both have become instant hits at the Emirates.
The Brazilian striker has hit the ground running through his tenacity, fantastic team play and outstanding finishing, typified by his two goals and three assists in just four matches.
The ability was undoubtedly always there, but was perhaps being wasted in a Man City side filled to the brim with attacking options, whereby Jesus was either not played, or often played out of position.
At Arsenal, he has found a new home, and is now brimming with confidence after being handed much of the goalscoring burden in a central striker role. He leads the line in Arteta’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, supported by Odegaard, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli in a hugely threatening attacking three.
Zinchenko meanwhile has impressed at left-back, proving hugely effective at both ends of the pitch. Fellow summer arrival Fabio Vieira will no doubt be given minutes as cup football comes into play, while youngster Marquinhos is already causing a storm for Arsenal under-21s, scoring three goals in as many games.
Arsenal backline not to be messed with
While Arteta has built a very exciting side going forward, his improvements at the back cannot be overlooked.
The defensive midfield partnership between Granit Xhaka and Partey has proven to be one of the best in the league, and it has perhaps taken some of the pressure off the new trusted back four of Zinchenko, Gabriel, Saliba and White, and of course Ramsdale in goal.
The defenders have conceded twice this season, and are slowly but surely building a reputation as being one of the most compact and complete defences in European football.
Saliba, in particular, has caught the eye, despite a turbulent beginning to his Premier League career. An immediate return to Saint-Etienne, along with loan moves to Nice and Marseille, cast doubts into the minds of many Arsenal fans, who questioned whether they would ever see the defender get his chance for the Gunners.
But after an outstanding temporary season at Marseille, in which Saliba was named Ligue 1 Player of the Year and helped the club qualify for the Champions League, he has now slotted effortlessly into Arsenal’s central defence alongside Gabriel.
Impressively, the likes of Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu could come in at full-back and the starting XI would be no lesser, with White able to transition effortlessly into a central role.
The same can be said in other areas of the field, where at striker Eddie Nketiah is more than ready to pounce on any chance he is given, and on the wing Emile Smith Rowe can come in and offer more of the same as Saka and Martinelli. Wolves star Pedro Neto could still arrive this summer, with reports linking both Wilfried Zaha and Youri Tielemans still as strong as ever.
All of the above have combined perfectly to put Arsenal at the top of the pile. It’s been an incredible transformation in such a short space of time, and Gunners fans will be hoping it continues.