Going into the new season, Arsene Wenger has spoken about the title race and winning the league in the first half of the season.
I don’t think anyone is under any illusion that we started that season well. By October, we were already nine points behind league leaders, Chelsea, who obviously went on to win it. Getting off to a strong start and maintaining this throughout the season is therefore imperative.
Wenger believes you can tell who’s going to win after not even half way through the season, saying, “Chelsea won it by a margin last year so they are the favourites. After that let’s see how it goes. After 15 games you will know more about who will win the Premier League.”
Although Chelsea may have been favourites before the season started, after drawing 2-2 with Swansea City at home in their opening game, Chelsea are looking far less threatening than many have predicted.
“Last year after 12 games we were 15 points behind Chelsea, and in the next 26 we took 58 points and Chelsea 55,” Wenger went on. “That means we missed our start to the season because it was after the World Cup.”
The boss has previously used Mesut Ozil as an example of a player who was affected by exhaustion after the World Cup and believes this is why he’ll have a stronger season now he’s properly rested.
“So let’s start strong this season… I believe we have the needed ingredients,” Wenger continued. “But we have a tricky start as well because we have two derbies and Liverpool in the first three games, so we have a difficult schedule from the start.”
He added, “We need to maintain our game. That’s important as well – that we develop what we do well and do not stand still. That means we develop our cohesion, our passing game. If we are capable to keep the cohesion and the solidarity we have at the moment through the 38 games, we have a good chance.”
Wenger also spoke about who this season’s wild card could be. The team which starts well, or has an excellent run and finds themselves in the top four despite pre-season predictions. Last season there was West Ham and also Southampton, who, while we were mooching around sixth place in November, were up in third.
“Every year, especially in the first part of the race, during the first part of the season, one team always gets in,” the boss said. “Who will it be this season? I don’t know. For a long period last year it was West Ham. When we played at Christmas at West Ham they were fourth in the league so it could be another surprise this season.”
The important thing is to remember that, no matter who is around us or who we’re facing, we still need to win. We need to concentrate on those three points each and every came for the entire season.