How Manchester City laid the foundations for Arsenal's title charge

At the start of the season, Arsenal simply wanted to finish in the top four and return to the Champions League for the first time since 2017

arsenal team

At the halfway stage of the season, Arsenal were at the top of the Premier League table after building a sizeable lead as they looked to win their first title since 2004. Manchester City have not slowed down with their recruitment in the transfer market but this season they have struggled for consistency, and Mikel Arteta's Arsenal have taken full advantage.

How Arsenal have closed the gap?

For many years City's domestic dominance was perceived to be insurmountable. They boast a team featuring some of the best players in the world; they have incredible depth and one of the greatest coaches in the form of Pep Guardiola. But this season City's quality has certainly not lived up to previous years on the pitch. In an online bet on the potential Premier League winners this season, City are now slight outsiders to defend their title at odds of 5/4. Arsenal are now a popular pick in the sports betting tips to secure the title, although there are still plenty of tough challenges to overcome. But how did Arsenal make this possible as a team that failed to even reach the top four last season?

Arsenal's journey to the peak of the Premier League began with the arrival of Mikel Arteta in 2019 following the dismissal of the previous manager Unai Emery. The Spanish coach was a former player of the club who knew the environment well. He assisted Guardiola in delivering success at City for several years in the Premier League and the domestic cups. A man who was once one of the Manchester club's strongest tactical minds left to pursue success at the expense of his former employers. Arteta began to instill a clear identity immediately upon his arrival at the Emirates, after several years of the club lacking direction. Arsenal signed many players in the prior years that were past their best, some of which were extremely influential and gave several managers an impossible task in terms of managing the dressing room. The Spanish coach sought to gradually shift the deadwood and replace them with young and ambitious players who had a point to prove, rather than an ego to maintain.

Arsenal were smart in the market and made a number of bargain acquisitions who have turned out to be key players for the club. Prior to the current season beginning Arteta perhaps made his most crucial moves in the transfer market as he raided his former club for Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko. City deemed them to be surplus to requirements, but Arsenal obtained born winners with the experience and know-how of how to challenge for major honors. The pair have helped transform Arteta's side from a team of talented individuals to a tight unit that does not concede many goals and can deal with the highest pressure moments. Arsenal in the past few years have collapsed on several occasions when their targets were incredibly close. A number of top-four charges ended in disappointment and the UEFA Europa League final loss against Chelsea in 2019 showcased the lack of leadership and top mentalities at the club but that has all changed this season.

Arsenal's potential title victory was manufactured in Manchester, perhaps years of dominance have allowed arrogance and complacency to creep in at the Etihad. Guardiola's team have created a fresh stumbling block to their own domestic success in England following years of intense title battles with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. Arteta has a massive chance of getting one over his former side this season in winning the title and Arsenal are finally back competing at the peak of England like a club of their stature should be.

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