Speaking to the press at London Colney on Thursday, Arsène Wenger came across as fairly bullish about Arsenal’s title chances.
The manager is clearly still encouraged by the performance in the 3-0 win against Manchester United, but he is far from complacent. On the other hand, he seemed to be interested in including as many teams as possible in this season’s title race.
“The top eight can compete. At the moment the top eight can mathematically compete. I would say five or six teams,” the Arsenal manager said when he was asked about the title race. It seems silly to be discussing a title race this early in the season but, when that’s the end game, it’s hard to avoid thinking about it.
The top eight are separated by just five points right now but include Crystal Palace, Leicester City, West Ham United and Everton. Clearly, with all due respect, none of those sides could sustain a challenge. In eighth lie Tottenham, and Liverpool and Chelsea are in 10th and 16th respectively.
Recent years have shown that only Chelsea and the Manchester clubs will compete to the title, but Arsenal are getting closer and closer. With the appointment of Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool will hope to be in the race for fourth at the very least.
Can anyone break the mould? Are there really five or six teams who could win the league? Wenger seems to believe last season’s champions, Chelsea, could even make up the 10 points Manchester City have over them right now.
“They have some ground to make up. It is different to anybody out there at the moment, even Chelsea. Of course when you have many teams in front of you it is difficult to catch up but they have the quality.”
“I don’t care too much about that,” the Frenchman added. “My worries are about my team and what we can do. We are two points behind the leaders and what all the other teams do is up to them. What I just want to say is mathematically you cannot rule anyone out at the moment.”
Mathematically, on points, you can’t rule anyone out. Looking at how teams have performed so far, perhaps you can.
One thing is for sure, Arsenal are better equipped than they have been at any point in the last decade. We’re ready to challenge, and the manager is confident we will.