Can Arsenal finish season strongly, or carry on trophy drought?
At this stage last season in the Premier League, Arsenal were down in fifth place and 12 points behind their current campaign total of 59. Presently, the north London side are second in the table below Chelsea.
Despite their high position and being one point off the top, Coral only make the Gunners third-favourites to win the league at 15/2. That is mainly due to the fact that they have a relatively thin squad (especially in attack), have not won a major trophy since the FA Cup in 2005 and their record signing Mesut Ozil has somewhat lost form.
The German playmaker began the season strongly, gaining four goals and eight assists in his opening 13 league games, resulting in Arsenal being two points clear at the top. However, in his next eight matches, Ozil has managed to produce just one assist – scoring none.
Arsene Wenger was forced to rest his star player in the recent 4-1 win over Sunderland in a bid to try and revitalise the 25-year-old in the hope of keeping him fresh for the run-in.
Arsenal are still in three competitions, but they look set to be dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich after their 2-0 home first leg loss against the competition favourites (15/8). Ozil had the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot, before his tame shot was clawed away by his former school mate Manuel Neuer.
Injuries have certainly taken their toll on the Gunners, especially since Aaron Ramsey was sidelined – he helped himself to 13 goals and seven assists in all competitions out of 27 games. The Welshman’s absence also coincided with Ozil’s lack of form.
Ramsey is hoping to return to the squad in time for the north London derby with Tottenham on March 16th, while Ozil is set to recalled against Stoke on February 29th.
Arsenal are also terribly lacking up front, with Frenchman Olivier Giroud going through a bad patch mid-season with just three goals in 13 league appearances, but his double against Sunderland will give Wenger more hope.
Giroud’s only has backup in the form of youngster Yaya Sanogo, out-of-favour Nicklas Bendtner and preferred wide-man Lukas Podolski, but it seems the Arsenal boss can’t risk dropping his top scorer again.
With tough fixtures ahead in March against Everton (FA Cup) and Bayern Munich (Champions League second leg) as well as league games to Spurs (away), Chelsea (away) and Man City (home), it seems likely that Arsenal will finish another season trophy-less.