Arsenal are the only team who can stop Manchester Citysitlpr

เวลาปล่อย:2022-12-09 คลิก:

Mikel Artetas side are top of the table with only one point separating them from second-placed Manchester City

Are Arsenal already the only team who can stop Manchester City from winning a fifth Premier League title in just six seasons?

The likelihood is that City will be top of the table as they face struggling Southampton at home on Saturday before Arsenal kick off against Liverpool the following day.

When the fixtures were released that encounter would have been earmarked as one in which Liverpool would have expected to be attempting to keep pace with City.

Instead it is Arsenal who are trying to do that and, remarkably, who have to go into the game as favourites. And that has not happened for them against Liverpool since Arsene Wenger was in his prime.

It means the game at the Emirates takes on even more meaning: for Arsenal, for Liverpool and for the rest of the league.

In factLiverpool are already 10 points behindCity and 11 behind Arsenal and although they have a game in hand, and although they have 93 points still to play for this season, that gap already looks daunting.

Should Liverpool lose to Arsenal it may, even this early into the campaign, be insurmountable for them. Back in mid-January Liverpool were 14 points in arrears to City, with Chelsea appearing the most likely challengers, with two games in hand, and clawed that lead back before finishing just a point behind.

Defeat to Arsenal this weekend would also leave them 14 points behind the leaders and potentially 13 behind City. After just nine games. It would feel that Liverpool are fighting for a top-four finish rather than the top spot.

Tottenham Hotspur are in the reckoning and although they lost at Arsenal last Saturday, and lost badly in the end, they do have the course and distance experience of Antonio Conte and probably a stronger squad - while this isall new to Mikel Arteta.

Chelsea are getting to know Graham Potter and new owner Todd Boehly and Manchester United are in an even greater phase of uncertainty as Erik ten Hag tries to haul them back,admitting they are not that good.

It points to Arsenal as the unlikeliest of likely challengers given their initial ambitions this campaign extended no further than finally reclaiming a Champions League place after finishing fifth.

But it has been an outstanding start. Arsenal have won nine out of 10 games in all competitions and while the one set-back came against United they redressed the balance, and quietened talk that they may be no more than flat-track bullies, by overwhelming Tottenham.

By contrast, after eight games of the previous two seasons, Artetas first two campaigns, Arsenal were in 12th place. Indeed it is the first time since 2013 that Arsenal have been top at this point although the excitement is tempered by what happened that season. They finished fourth.

The mid-season break, caused by the World Cup, adds a new factor. In essence we are working on two seasons in one and even within that there is a mini-season - the clutch of games between the last international break, that ended last weekend, and players heading to Qatar in mid-November.

It means that if Arsenal can beat Liverpool and retain top-spot there is a distinct possibility that they can hold off City for the remainder of this first-half of the season. And, after that, who knows what will happen?

Arsenals next opponents are: Leeds United, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Only Chelsea and, granted, it is away at Stamford Bridge are currently in the top half of the table. Two of those five teams are in the bottom three. That is a highly winnable sequence for Arteta.

Citys run is, in theory, trickier. They also face Liverpool, then Brighton, Leicester City, Fulham and Brentford. So only one of their opponents Leicester are lower than 10th at present and they should not be there. But this is City and no opponent will faze them.

An added factor is that Arsenal may, actually, have fewer players at the World Cup.Erling Haaland is not goingbut then neither is Martin Odegaard while none of Arsenals three Brazilians made it into their countrys last squad (although Gabriel Jesus could still be selected).

Given how City have the potential to swat-aside all-comers they are averaging more than 3.5 goals per game in the league then it may be clutching at straws to expect anyone to keep pace with them.

But the longer Arsenal can stay in front the more chance there is of a title race developing that involves them especially given Liverpools problems. Conversely, of course, Jurgen Klopp will hope that a win away to Arsenal will be a fresh start for Liverpool to re-set themselves.

With Arsenal the added complication, the big variable, is that this is completely new territory for this manager and for this group of players. Arsenal finished second in 2015-16 but were arguably last truly in a title race in 2007-08.

It feels like this weekend may reveal whether they are in one again and whether they are becoming the only credible opposition to what may otherwise turn out to be a Haaland-led City procession which may ultimately prove unstoppable in any case.

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