Arsenal’s near-perfect start to the campaign has fans, experts and bookies believing that this year’s title race will feature more than the usual suspects, Man City and Liverpool.
Top betting sites like bet365, Ladbrokes and Irish bookmaker, Paddy Power have all slashed Arsenal’s odds to win the league, showing how the Gunners are considered serious title contenders this term.
And it’s not only the results and the points tally thus far which has given Arsenal fans genuine hope of seeing a first league championship since 2004.
It’s also the manner of the victories which has made people sit up and take note.
There’s a steeliness about Arsenal that has long been lacking, along with a solid resolve to overcome setbacks as was evident in the home wins against Leicester, Aston Villa and Fulham, and again during the weekend win over that other team in North London.
With this newfound mentality, in addition to the flair and attacking prowess Arsenal now have with Gabriel Jesus leading the line, you can see how this team is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Amongst all the positivity, however, it’s important for Arteta to make sure his side doesn’t get carried away. He knows more than most how optimism can be lost quickly.
You only have to go back to the end of last season when four wins in a row – including victories away at Chelsea and at home to Man United – meant qualification for the Champions League was Arsenal’s to lose. Which of course they did after self-imploding against Spurs and Newcastle.
It’s a pattern of results that has become synonymous with the Gunners in recent seasons and a trend we could yet see more of given the average age of Arsenal’s team is 24, the youngest in the league. With youth comes great unpredictability of course.
As great as the start to the season has been, the hard work begins now for Arteta and his young guns. Games are set to come thick and fast prior to mid-November when club football takes a pause for the FIFA World Cup.
Between now and then, Arsenal have no less than twelve games to play in six weeks (an average of one every three days) with eight of those to be played in October alone.
Arsenal’s packed schedule features a home fixture against Liverpool, away trips to Leeds and Chelsea plus a Europa League doubleheader against PSV.
After a relatively straightforward start, the upcoming block of games will be a good yardstick with which to measure this developing Arsenal side.
If the Gunners can navigate a demanding schedule and maintain their early season form come the World Cup break, Arteta could be on to something special.
Are Arsenal the real deal? We’re about to find out.