When a new season gets under way, it is often said that you shouldn’t pay any attention to the league table until at least 10 games have been played.
Well with 15 gone, it’s Leicester who lead the way and you simply cannot discount them from the title race as they make a mockery of all those who, well, mocked their appointment of Claudio Ranieiri. They sit on top of the table on merit. Theirs is not a false position and week after week they are the ones who are being consistent. The so-called ‘bigger boys’ are not.
On Saturday, Arsenal had the chance to go second thanks to Man City losing the plot at Stoke and Manchester United unable to find the net once again, this time against West Ham.
Despite winning 3-1 against Sunderland, the socreline was a bit of a lie and one that did not tell anything close to the whole story of how Arsenal laboured against Big Sam’s men (he still hasn’t won at Arsenal despite his claims that he has a great record against Arsene Wenger).
This is not new.
Over the past few weeks, Arsenal have been presented with the chance of building a lead over United and City but have blown their lines, often in comical fashion, and as Olivier Giroud smashed the ball into the back of his own net, it seemed as if we’d be living out the same story once again this week.
But they got themselves together and now find themselves two points behind Leicester (and the only side Leicester have lost to is Arsenal), one point ahead of City (while levelling up goal difference) and United – all whilst suffering the worst injury crisis in the division.
Watching City fall apart against Mark Hughes’ Stoke side, it was hilarious to listen to the commentators bemoan the two or three injuries which have the potential to derail City’s title tilt. Without Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, any side might struggle, but City aren’t ‘any side’ – they are one of the richest sides in the world, one that has spent an absolute fortune on squad recruitment. Losing two (or three if we factor in the weeks they did without David Silva) key players should barely cause a ripple on their radar.
United under Louis van Gaal are tedious. They might want to win the league but they’ll need to find a way to score a few more goals. Although they’ve only scored seven fewer than Arsenal, that works out at almost half a goal per game less – and they were the ones who spunked a ton of cash on a striker while Arsenal, as you know, did not. City themselves have only scored three more than Arsenal.
Spurs, who are apparently also title challengers in this crazy season, might only have lost one game like league leaders Leicester, but they’ve drawn eight. Not losing is great, but it means little if you can’t convert those into wins.
This league is the most open in recent memory with any side from six or seven in with a chance (if we are counting in Spurs, then we have to count in West Ham as well who are only three points behind them and we can’t leave out Liverpool who could go level with Spurs if they beat Newcastle on Sunday).
Arsenal have managed to keep up the pace and get a little bit of daylight despite missing a ton of players.
If they want it, the league is there for the taking.
Assuming, that is, they’re able to catch Leicester.