Former Arsenal favourite Alan Smith has vacated his seat on the fence in emphatic fashion, claiming his former employers have no chance of challenging for the Premier League title this season.
The ever-insightful Smudger doubts the Gunners are as good as frontrunners in the betting Chelsea and Manchester City and had the following to say about their aspirations for the season:
“Realistically you’re looking at another top-four finish, and maybe they can nick a cup again, but unfortunately I still don’t see them as title challengers.”
It doesn’t look as though the Sky Sports summariser will be investing his hard-earned into the 12/1 about Arsene Wenger’s troops hoisting a fourth top-tier crown this term, but he’s wrong to be so negative when discussing his old wage-payers’ hopes.
They may have started the season sluggishly, but Arsenal are still capable of mounting a challenge, as these reasons will attest:
No side topped last season’s Premier League table longer than the north Londoners.
The Stamina League winners, as Wenger heralded them, have since augmented their attacking and defensive departments with both quality and numbers meaning they have to be considered better placed to challenge this term.
Chelsea are widely considered to have done the best business in the transfer market, but there are still evident issues in their ranks.
For instance, should Blues line-leader Diego Costa suffer a hamstring injury, which is apparently a bi-weekly occurrence, their lack of a world-class goal-getter is obvious.
Likewise, should Cesc Fabregas find himself holed up in the sick bay for an extended period, the creative powers of Jose Mourinho’s men will also be called into question.
The Special One constantly refuted the west Londoners’ league-winning credentials without these two in the team and should he lose them for lengthy stints this season, surely their ability to hoist the title must be compromised?
Defensive deficiencies are still evident in the Manchester City team.
Their 1-0 reverse at home to Stoke last time out confirmed as much.
Two of the four players the Citizens acquired to bolster their backline started that particular game too, which detracts from any claims that they’re legions ahead of Arsenal too.