Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
This weekend’s Premier League action was another stunning example of its unpredictable nature with shock results coming left, right and centre.
However, a 3-0 win for Arsene Wenger’s men highlighted the north London club’s level of consistency and helped the Gunners back into the Champions League places they desire. Arsenal have endured some intense battles for a top four finish in recent years and, whilst they did eventually succeeded in every season, they will hope for a much smoother ride in 2014/15.
Here’s why they should claim a top four finish with ease:
Cup Glory Has Restored Confidence
The cynics may brush it off as “only the FA Cup”, but there is no denying that Arsenal’s triumph at Wembley last May has offered a huge platform from which they can start to build towards a return to the summit of English football.
Having failed to win a trophy for nearly decade, rediscovering that winning mentality was hugely important and now the Gunners can continue to work towards more silverware in 2104/15 and beyond.
Even throughout times of heartache, Arsenal have remained a team capable of blowing teams out of the water on their day. Unfortunately, a lack of consistency had let them down on several occasions. However, the Gunners are now undefeated in 14 domestic matches and that stability should ensure that they enjoy another successful campaign here.
Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal
Saturday’s comfortable win over Aston Villa was a fantastic example of how Arsenal have matured over the past year and it is a result that should not be overlooked.
In previous years, a defeat like Tuesday’s in Dortmund would have floored the Gunners and dropped points in the subsequent league game would have been no surprise. However, 2014/15 Arsenal have far greater mental strength than the squads of recent years and the result was never in doubt at Villa Park.
It is also well worth noting that Aston Villa’s early season form had been superb heading into this fixture and Paul Lambert’s men would have fancied their chances on Saturday. After a few early scares, though, Arsenal were dominant and fully deserved their three points.
Perhaps more crucially, though, we saw a ruthless streak from Arsenal that has been absent for a number of years. Three goals in five minutes away from the Emirates is a fantastic feat and absolutely killed any chance of a Villa fightback. The Gunners spotted a weakness in their opposition and duly punished them with the quick 1-2-3.
It was a fantastic victory for the Gunners and underlines why they should ease to Champions League qualification for an 18th consecutive season.
Wenger’s Shrewd Summer Business
Having seen last year’s top scorer Oliver Giroud ruled out for an extended period due to injury, Wenger will have been pleased to see £16 million deadline day acquisition Danny Welbeck get on the scoresheet against Villa and if the former Manchester United star continues to show his early promise from a central berth then he could soon emerge as a key man for both club and country.
Fellow summer signings Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy have also shown encouraging signs during the start of their Arsenal careers, even if the latter will miss the next three months of action.
Wenger’s marquee addition this summer was Alexis Sanchez and the Chilean international has also hit the ground running at his new club with important goals. There is still arguably a little bit of imbalance within the Gunners squad but it is encouraging to see improvements in the squad – unlike previous summers where star players have departed rather than arrived.
That change in the tide was initiated with last year’s massive signing of Mesut Ozil. The German has endured a roller-coaster first 13 months in England, with plaudits and criticisms coming in equal measures. However, the former Real Madrid star showed his undeniable quality once more on Saturday and his ability to win football matches could be a key asset as Arsenal look to take the next step forward in 2014/15.
Wenger sat patiently for several years but is finally beginning to spend the cash and he is now rebuilding a squad capable of competing at the top.
Are Arsenal ready to sustain a genuine challenge for the title? Possibly not.
However, Champions League qualification looks a certainty in 2014/15 and the Gunners look ready to close the gap on the top two. A top three finish should be Wenger’s expectation this term and another cup glory could well be on the cards.