Can Arsenal beat Jesus’ blow to win the Premier League?

The Premier League title race is about to get real for Arsenal. For the first time since Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” won the club’s last title in 2003-04, Arsenal feel they are a team that can go all-in and take the trophy to the Emirates. But coach Mikel Arteta’s team has only done the easy part so far.

Make no mistake: to be five points top of the table, having only suffered one defeat in 14 matches, is a real achievement for Arteta and his young squad. Arsenal deserve to lead the race as the Premier League resumes after a six-week hiatus for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but their impressive start to the season is now just money in the bank. We’re about to see how long that will take.

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Since the Premier League began in 1992-93 there have been 30 completed seasons and the team that finishes top on Christmas Day is the best. Sixteen teams took the lead at Christmas and finished as champions, with 14 failing to go the distance. Arsenal finished second to Manchester United on Christmas Day 2003 and were crowned champions.

It’s a slightly skewed statistic historically this time around, with Arsenal playing just 14 games due to the World Cup being closed. So far, teams have typically played 17 matches, so it is probably unfair to burden Arteta’s side with the pressure of having to live up to the ‘Christmas Captains’. But by starting very well and maintaining their form, Arsenal are undoubtedly in the title race.

Champions Manchester City remain the favorites for every bookmaker, despite being five points behind the leaders, Pep Guardiola’s side will have little margin for error if Arsenal continue as they left off. That’s the challenge facing Arsenal, however, and the picture is not quite as clear as it was when they wrapped up the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Wolves in mid-November.

What worries Arteta most is the loss of striker Gabriel Jesus, who may be out of action for up to four months due to a medial ligament injury he suffered with Brazil at the World Cup. The 25-year-old has scored five goals for Arsenal since his £45m move from Man City in the summer, and while his shooting rate may not be overly impressive, his contribution as a team player and winning mentality has brought him from his time at the Etihad which has made It made him very important to Arteta’s team.

Without Jesus, Arsenal have to find a way to make their front line work too – and that won’t be easy.

Defender Ben White’s performance after leaving England at the World Cup early for personal reasons will be another major question for Arteta. White’s versatility and consistency, whether at full-back or centre-back, have been crucial this season, so Arsenal will need him to return to the form that earned him the call-up to Qatar.

On the other hand, winger Bukayo Saka has had an impressive World Cup run with England, and fellow striker Gabriel Martinelli is said to be close to signing a contract extension at the Emirates after returning from the World Cup with Brazil. So, amidst these concerns, there were positives that Arteta could build on.

The Arsenal manager knows that a difficult period lies ahead. With more players than any other club – nine – having logged more than 1,000 minutes in the Premier League this season, fatigue could become a factor as Arsenal (and every other team) start to catch up in the league and cup after Qatar 2022.

“We will play every three days,” Arteta said. “The crowds and the amount of matches we have to play will be unbelievable. We will have to get more resources and more players to be able to do that.

“We have confidence that we are on the right track, but also we have red lights and warnings, because what is coming in the second half of the season is something unprecedented. And we need to be ready for that.”

Arsenal’s run of matches between now and European football’s return in mid-February will give us a clear indication as to whether they can hold on to their title bid or fall out of the way, with series winners City benefiting from their squad’s depth and experience. Arsenal Repair Squad.

The home game against West Ham on Monday is the start of a tough run, followed by a tough trip to Brighton and a visit to in-form Newcastle on January 3. And within a month, after the third FA Cup. Back and forth to Oxford United, Arsenal have to play Tottenham (away), Manchester United (home) and Manchester City (home), so it’s definitely a testing period for Arteta and his players.

Some of the title winners – Leicester (2016), Blackburn (1995) – got off to a good start and harnessed a wave of momentum to the end of the season, but many others ran out of steam. We’re about to find out which division Arsenal will fall into this season.

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