With this season’s title race being one of the most exciting in living memory, we assess Arsene Wenger’s Gunners side’s chances of winning just their 4th Premier League title this year.
Arsenal 2-1 Leicester: A re-cap
Danny Welbeck’s last-gasp heroics against Leicester City on Sunday afternoon gave his Arsenal side an invaluable victory over a team that had very much become the darlings of the Premier League this season.
For all the Foxes’ graft and workmanship after finding themselves 1-0 up despite going down to ten men inside the 54th minute following a foolish second yellow card from Danny Simpson, a patient Arsenal side finally breached the Leicester City defences with an equalising goal from Theo Walcott and a 95th minute winner from Danny Welbeck moving the Gunners to just 2 points within reach of the Premier League summit.
Their opponents City must have thought their wild fairy tale was about to get even wilder after a darting run into the box from Jamie Vardy on the 45th minute invited a clumsy challenge from Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal resulting in a penalty. It was Vardy again who calmly dispatched the resulting spot kick, setting the midlands club on their way to what many thought would be another memorable victory against the North London club.
But after some rather needless shirt-tugging from Leicester right-back Simpson, the 29-year-old was given his marching orders from referee Martin Atkinson after already being booked for another offence just minutes earlier. From there on in, the dynamics of the game completely shifted with Arsenal making their unrelenting pressure on the away side finally pay off in the dying moments of the match.
How does the Gunners’ remaining fixtures look?
It’s fair to say there’s plenty of potential egg shells that lie in wait of Arsenal in their remaining 12 games of the Premier League season. After going toe to toe with Catalonian giants Barcelona at the Emirates next Wednesday, Arsenal will then be forced to pay a visit to one of their old foes Manchester United on Sunday the 28th of February. With a crunch tie with rivals Spurs taking place just a week later and further tricky fixtures against Everton (March 19th), West Ham (April 9th) and Man City (May 7th), Arsene Wenger’s men are certainly still left with it all to do should they want to finish their domestic campaign with an open-top bus parade in London.
How are their title rivals shaping up?
It remains to be seen how much of a damaging effect Danny Welbeck’s late winner will have had on the psyche of Leicester City’s players last Sunday. The very concept of ‘squeeky bum time’ and ‘holding your nerve’ in a title race will be something that’s completely alien to many of the Foxes’ players and the responsibility lies with Claudio Ranieri to re-galvanise his men in wake of their Premier League match-up with Norwich next weekend. With big-spenders Man City falling another 3 points further behind the chasing pack in their 2-1 defeat to Spurs on Sunday, it is indeed Tottenham themselves that Arsenal should be most wary of with a perfectly-timed local derby taking place between these two sides in just a fortnight’s time.
What’s ComeOn’s Verdict?
With many components of Arsenal’s season still hanging in the balance at the time of writing, a lot depends on the Gunners’ ‘extra-curricular’ commitments besides the Premier League. Some may argue a Champions League last 16 tie with Barcelona and a 5th round FA Cup match against fellow 2014 finalists Hull City may be too much for Arsene Wenger’s squad to take. But if there’s any club in the Premier League that can fight on multiple fronts and have the strength in depth to do it well it will always be Arsenal. Coupled with the fact their UCL opponents Barcelona are a meagre 2/11 with ComeOn! to advance to the quarter finals, it’s pretty unlikely Arsenal will be in the competition much longer anyway.
So come on then, what’s the friggin’ verdict?
We’re going to put our neck on the line and say Arsenal will win the Premier League…just. With Man City’s decreasingly likely chances of making up ground on the rest of the pack and Spurs and Leicester’s more or less complete lack of experience in a title race, we believe it’s the Gunners that will dish out the tools necessary to finish this season as winners of the Premier League.
Author – Andrew MacFarlane