5 reasons why Arsenal are leading the Premiership

The international week rolls on and so does the lack of Arsenal news. As I result I’m continuing the trend of using this time off as a sort of reflection of the season so far. Over the past couple of days I focused on the individual performances of the Arsenal players, grading their efforts and providing some comments for where they have done well and where they can improve. 

I thought for today I’d look at the major reasons why I feel the club are where they are right now, sitting first in the league as opposed to squabbling for the final Champions League spot as was predicted by many experts before the season kicked off. So with no further adieu, I present my five reasons why Arsenal are leading the Premiership.

1. Renewed energy in the midfield

Flamini's energy has benefited his teammatesThere is little doubt that last season’s middle pairing of Cesc Fabregas and Gilberto Silva were two of the best Arsenal players in 2006/2007. But there’s absolutely no doubt that since the introduction of Mathieu Flamini in the Brazilian’s holding midfield role things the energy in the midfield has gone through the roof. The young Frenchman has shown his worth to the side with a series of energetic, aggressive and skillful performances this season. As a result, the more creative players like Alexander Hleb, Tomas Rosicky and especially his partner-in-crime Fabregas have blossomed.

The original strand of thought at the end of last season was that for Arsenal to get back their dominance of the midfield of years gone by a powerful Patrick Vieira-like player was necessary. But Flamini’s incessant running and hassling coupled with the fitness and energy of the other midfielders has shown Arsenal supporters that there are more effective ways to win the midfield battle than was previously thought.

2. Improved mental and physical fitness

Along a very similar line of thinking is the incredible mental and physical fitness that has been shown by the entire team so far this season. There was a statistic that surfaced soon after the draw with Manchester United that no less than 50% of all of Arsenal’s goals up until that point had been scored in the last quarter of their matches. And while this percentage has since dropped off a little since then the point remains the same; Arsene Wenger’s side have shown time and time again that they are not only one of the fittest sides going around physically, but they have also displayed a mental toughness that many people did not expect them to show this season. It is this toughness that has stolen wins and draws when perhaps more negative results looked more likely.

3. Unpredictability in attack

In recent seasons Arsenal’s attacking play has been dominated by the presence of one man; Thierry Henry. When he was on fire this was all well and good but in the times when the Frenchman was not on song or not in the side Arsenal would often look a little out of ideas in the final third. However, some excellent recruitment by Arsene Wenger has meant that Henry’s move to Barcelona has caused few problems at all this season.

Eduardo's guile has added unpredictability to Arsenal's attackIndeed, you would be hard-pressed to find a more unique group of attacking players going around in any club in Europe. Emmanuel Adebayor has height, pace and an amazing ability to stay involved in the game for 90 minutes; Eduardo da Silva brings guile and precise finishing to the side; Robin van Persie (when fit) is still arguably the club’s most talented player, exceptionally creative with the ball at his feet and possessing an amazing shot while Nicklas Bendtner has a huge frame and excellent foot skills to go with his endless confidence.

It is a combination that looks great on paper and has equated to success on the pitch. Adebayor has undoubtedly been the stand-out of the bunch but the constant rotation of the other three throughout the season has meant that Arsenal’s attack has never once become predictable. Supporters may lambaste van Persie’s consistent injuries but the great thing is that when the Dutchman does return he’s going to be something of a surprise to whoever the opposition may be. Indeed, most sides will have been researching tapes with Adebayor and Eduardo running around together up front.

4. Predictability in defence

Just as important has been Arsene Wenger’s ability to field the same back five on more occasions than not this season. A lot of football observers undervalue the importance of the same players playing together week-in, week-out, and there is no area on the pitch where this rings true than in defence. In Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Gael Clichy and goalkeeper Manuel Almunia Arsenal have a group of defenders that know each other’s games inside and out and it has really shown this season.

There’s little doubt that each member of the back five have done well individually – Sagna and Clichy in particular have been immense – but it is collectively that Arsenal defence has really shined. Gallas has shown himself to be a terrific leader and the communication in the backline looks to be at a very high level, something that could not be said last season. Add to that Flamini’s hassling in the midfield and it’s clear that if Arsenal can maintain their defensive line-up for the best part of the rest of the campaign then they will remain a very difficult side to break down.

5. Wenger’s faith in his players

Arsene Wenger’s faith has been rewardedBefore the start of the season when many Arsenal supporters were fearing the impact of Henry’s exit and calling for big-name signings left, right and centre Arsene Wenger had the strength of mind to ignore the hype and put faith in the core components of his young but talented squad. While Liverpool splashed millions on Fernando Torres and Manchester United brought in Owen Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani and Carlos Tevez, Wenger stuck with his side and complimented it with two seemingly odd signings in Sagna and Eduardo.

It’s wonderful to see that he has been rewarded with the faith he has shown. Rather than replacing the areas of the side that looked a little undercooked the manager put trust in his young players to step up. They have done it in some style. Virtually every member of the first-team from last season has improved this time around with Flamini and Adebayor the exceptional examples. It’s still great to know that in a football world increasingly affected by money, a lack of loyalty and the need for quick-fix solutions, Wenger is being rewarded for showing faith in his players and the Arsenal Football Club are being rewarded for showing faith in the manager’s methods.

The Arsenal Opus competition is coming…

So there you have it. I have to say I really enjoyed writing this post and I’ve enjoyed taking some time out this week to reflect on the season so far. Before things kick off again with the Premiership clash against Blackburn I’d encourage all supporters of the club to really have a think about just how much this side has achieved so far this season. Silverware or no silverware I’m absolutely thrilled with the performance of Wenger’s side and exceptionally proud to call Arsenal my club.

Just before I go I want to let everybody know that there will be a competition starting very shortly on the blog where readers will have a chance to win a copy of the Arsenal Opus. If you don’t know what the Opus is then stay tuned for more and if you know all about how great it is then be sure to check back on the blog soon to see how you can enter. To keep in touch with the blog make sure you subscribe to my daily posts. Cheers.

What do you think?

Have your say on the five reasons why Arsenal are leading the Premiership by leaving a comment.



  1. Mate,
    Really enjoy reading your posts reckon you’ve got it spot on, although only thing you have’nt touched on is our team spirit, especially when guys are missing (RVP, Kolo, Eboue to a lesser extent) all the young(er) members of the squad have shown fantastic maturity. Well proud to be a Gunner, hopefully this team will be able to emulate the invincibles and more. Best news is that Kaka wont be playing!

  2. This is indeed true and a good analysis of the team.

    As diehard fans we just wish all our players good health and an injury free spell as we close the season with 96 pionts to clinch the EPL league.

    SF- Do you have any latest news about Diaby’s and Flamini’s injuries while on International duty?

    I am eagerly awaiting the semi finals of the ACN cup today with my teams being Ghana and Ivory Coast for the final duel on Sunday and of course Ivory Coast lifting the trophy.

    I can not underrate Ghana especially with their Voodoo men all around the stadium and always get their final predictions right.

    Keep it up SF – I have noted this year your posts have been excellent despite some internet problems experienced earlier on.

  3. A nice article. We bvig up all the Arsenal players for all that they have done this season.

  4. Very good article.If I have to add something I would say what a great manager is Mr.Wenger,for letting Thierry to go,in order that some players like Ade,Hleb and to some extent Cesc would express themselves more freely.
    With or without Kaka I am confident that Arsenal will prevail over Milan

  5. Nice post.. You have got it spot on..

    But I would add one more point to the 5 you mentioned and that is the Unity in the team. I mean the way they celebrate a goal or the way they play for each other or the way they trust each other is awesome.

    The courage with which the full backs overlap the wingers, the way kolo or gallas gets into attacking positions without worrying about the defensive duties(they trust that somebody will cover for them) is awesome.

  6. Good article. I think though it’s more of a rejuvinated attitude and respect for Le boss’s decisions that makes this team tick, something which for the last two seasons was lacking. Believe me if Diarra was still in we would falter somewhere! He needs to mature.

    SF, am looking forward to participating in the Opus thing.

  7. I like the analysis. I am still convinced that we can be a topside with Gilberto in the center and don’t think he should be written off. Particularly in the Champions League I think that his positional sense and calm are equals to Flamini’s manic energy.

    BTW, ArsenalKenya, when I was in Ghana in 1994 they lost a match in Abijan to the Ivorians 1-0. Before the match a traditional witch-doctor, in full garb, sprinkled chicken blood around the central circle. The Ghanian’s were disgusted and embarrassed. The one’s I knew felt that it gave Africa a bad image. However, even if you don’t believe in that stuff, I am pretty sure that it gave something of a psychological edge to the home team.

  8. nice article SF, but I think ArsenalKenya is beeing a bit optimistic. If we were to clinch the title by 96 points, we only can afford to drop 3 points from now. That means just one loss and no draws. I hope you’re right but it’s too optimistic.

    I think Sagna is the player of the season. If you didn’t know you would think he’s been an arsenal player for ages. Its quite incredible how fast he has adapted to english football. He is very concistent and very robust.

    Adebayor has improved immensely so has Flamini and those 3 are the standout performers this season

  9. According to Eurosport, Flamini was on the bench last night for the France A team – not that Domenech wouldn’t play him, even if he had a broken leg!

    In your review above, you did touch on the importance of William Gallas as captain but I think that is much more important than is given credit for. Many Arsenal supporters were highly critical of this choice at the start of the season but I always thought it was inspired. So Gallas moaned a lot last year but he was mostly complaining about the young players’ willingness to accept defeat. We have heard a lot in the last week about Capello instilling a winning mentality into the England team and that is exactly what William Gallas has done for Arsenal. He has taken it on himself to drive the youngsters and to foster the team spirit that is necessary to lead us to success.

    I believe he merits a section of his own in your analysis above and, if we achieve success this year, a great deal of credit goes to him. He is the best captain we have had since Tony Adams and, in time, he might be right up there alongside him.

  10. cem – I am anticipating draws against the other big three’s i.e. liverfools, Manures and Chelski.

    We Can Still beat them and end up with a record 99points.

    We know this current team can do it . Does any one disagree with these ambitious targets ?

  11. Nice read SF, enjoyed it and agreed with much of what you said. However, I feel there are a few important things to add as to why we’re doing so well;

    1. Home feeling more like home now – the move to the Emirates was a big step and we still had many players playing in the side who were used to Highbury – Gilbo, Ljungberg, Henry etc but this year with the fresh faces in and the ground feeling more comfortable the boys look like they now feel at home! Thats important.

    2. Brave decisions – Wenger sold Henry, sold Ljungberg, dropped Gilberto, dropped Lehmann, made Gallas captain and this has rejuvenated his whole team. It’s almost as though he ripped out the old guard and let his previously protected youngsters run riot, unshackled. It was a risk, but one that paid off.

    3. Trash to Treasure – Hleb, Flamini, Senderos, Adebayor and Almunia – players that in the past have been synonymous with frustration for arsenal fans. Hleb was a serial waster of the ball, slowing down breaks with his over-dribbles and never took a shot on, Flamini seemed inept at adjusting his enthusiasm to the pace of the game, often being caught out of position and giving the ball away in dangerous situations, Senderos has been known as a blunder horse for Arsenal, giving away silly fouls, poor positioning, out muscled and too slow, Ade has been charged with poor finishing, poor touch and a lack of understanding for positioning and passing and almunia has always been considered 2nd rate and not good enough for arsenal. These players have all come good this year and although many still exhibit some of the traits they were hammered for they more than make for it with what they bring to the table now. These players have made this team tick again and have removed the ‘weak link’ theory that was previously attached when they played in past seasons.

  12. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article; your understanding of our squad and writing style are first class. It is truly a wonderful time to be a fan of this great Club.

  13. I think the form of Hleb has been an udner-rated pi8ece in the jigsaw this season. Even last year online gooners were slating him – well, he’s stepped up his game this year with the quality of his touch, movement and passing. A huge part of the team.

  14. Oh. I thought the reason Arsenal were top of the league is that they had accumulated more points than everyone else.

  15. aj is spot on. Gallas has been immense as captain. You can see when he scores, when we win, and his comments after games how much he loves the club now and wants to lead by example for the young players. UNlike the glare from TH. And no-one has even missed Ljungberg. Wenger the genius made some money for the club by losing another passenger, just like gilberto is now. After seeing him in the spurs debacle i hope he never gets near the 1st team again.

  16. absolutely great article you kinda make the inetrnatinal break jus drift by without much hassle.i like the points you picked out nad i have to say the team has pleasantly surprised me even some the individuals i had nealuy written off have surpassed all my wildest expectations,its an absolute joy supporting this team at the moment and i think being top has also resulted in the ggood posts put on here.

    a few weeks back i was down becoz the team had shown me what it was capable of and i could feel we could win something and that deep in form left me dejected and asking for more playres during the windw so i hold my hands up to pple like Senderos…and say thank you for surpassing my expectations..

    i wouldnt be surprised if pple came on and said um not a true supporter but i feel um more than that coz i jus want us to reap what we all feel we deserve and are defnitly due …

    We Gunner Gunn Em…

  17. 5 reasons Arsenal are top? Adebayor, Adebayor, Flamini, Gallas and Adebayor.

    No, good article. TH14’sSOA has it also in his comment – trash to treasure, Adebayor, Flamini, Hleb, Senderos and Almunia. These players have all upped their game by maybe as little as 5% but cumulatively this has made a world of difference.

    For the last two seasons we’ve been a team who would create hundreds of chances and leave it up to mathematical probability that some of them would go in. Sometimes this backfires, cf West Ham. Now we look leaner and smarter, more in control, more clinical up front and more stable at the back. It’s a thing of beauty.

  18. Hey, you guys are forgetting the most maligned of them all: Alex Song. He hasn’t done much yet for Arsenal, but I just finished watching Ghana-Cameroon, a real battle, and he was huge. He completely dominated the middle of the park. I think in the next year we will begin to see this guy totally dominating games for Arsenal.

  19. the 1st comment in this article was not me and I am the blogger who has been blogging since this began and also got strangley “awarded” (told) blogger of last year lmao. Anyway to what matters (arsenal)I hav been watching the Afican Cup of Nations, looking out for Manu, Kolo n Alex and the best performer so far I hav 2 say is Song. I saw him in the Semi vs Ghana and he was SO solid. playing against Agogo and Essien is not easy but he played jus like Gallas/Kolo and I think its fair to say Cameroon wud not be in the final if Song hadn’t of played. He had his best game in a football jersey vs. Ghana and finally he has found his feet and will get the praise he has been longin 4. Arsenal have 2 play him more now! Ignstz first comment, made me larf but is still true to an extent. Flamini and ade r the reasons y we on top n Gallas aswell.

  20. vlc gooner was writing the same tym as me and we both sed the same thing which proves song has improved and am delighted he wiv arsenal.

  21. I’ve watched Ivory coast crush out of the A.Cup. I have to say Toure looks ragged he was at fault for 2 goals. I really hope wenger gives him a good break.The man is in need of a good rest.I just want to go back on one point from last blog regarding Van Persie. There were some people who made comments Including SF that he will not get back into the side I would advise them to check youtube for some Van Persie compilations to remind them.The guy is a genius not even one player in the squad come near him in term of technique,speed,finishing and some fantastic free kicks to go with it.If 100% fit Wenger will select him regularly and he ‘ll be almost like a new signing for us.

  22. Good points about song witch i was going to mention as well,to think last season everyone was saying he was pants and get rid of him,along with flamini and hleb,oh how times change a.time and time we read bloggers questioning le bosses intentions,sells henry and buys an unknown croation,a right back when we already had two,who turns out to be the bargin buy of the season.pre season we heard all these big names linked with commimg to us, only to see them brought up buy other clubs,and we were all thinking how are we ever going to compete.but look at us now…Arsene knows in the words of another blogger

  23. and now cameroon are in the final thanks to a monster display from song you just know the tabloids will be churning out the 200 clubs that wants to sign him after the anc is over

  24. The football world is fickle arsenor. Great news about Song, it seems everybody has been impressed with his performance against Ghana. They look good to win the thing after Egypt knocked out the Ivory Coast.

  25. Not sure if this was mentioned in the post (I can’t immediately see it), but also I believe (as Alan Hansen of the BBC says) that Arsenal are grinding out victories – something they couldn’t do last year – and doing it in the style that Man U did last year.

    This is the way to win trophies!

  26. Another great article, like most I’d agree that you neglected to add one thing and that’s the unity in the squad. Gallas has done a great job as captain, the pre\post game huddles, the midfield enjoy each others company so much they spend time together outside of the club. Arsene has done a great job, the way he nurtures the young players, keeps faith with them, guides them. I have no fears for Theo he’ll get their in the end with Arsene behind him. Not sure how much input he(Wenger) has in the clubs work for charity but that added to the way the players carry themselves, do media work etc keeps up the clubs image. Unfortunately the news that all clubs agreed to overseas game is disappointing but …

  27. Arsenal will win this premiership trophy
    with 93 points according to form of Wenger’s young boys.

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