Despite the current Premier League table giving Arsenal fans hope that this could finally be their year after more than a decade of waiting, Gary Neville has had some sobering things to say about the Gunners’ title chances.
Currently in third place on 40 points after 19 games, the north London club will be aspiring to bridge the gap between them and two highly confident and in-form sides – Chelsea and Liverpool.
The pair’s incessant pace at the top has been difficult for Arsene Wenger’s men to keep with up with. Arsenal have one more point than they did at this stage last season, when they topped the league table ahead of Leicester City on goal difference, illustrating just how commanding the top two’s displays have been thus far.
With Tottenham, Leicester and Liverpool, all away from home, to come for Chelsea this month though, it could now be Arsenal’s time to pounce and put together a sustained title bid.
However, when speaking on Sky Sports (via the Daily Star) Gary Neville believes it could just be the same old story again this term for the Emirates side.
“I think Arsenal are where they’d expect to be, where you and I expect them to be.
“They win, go on long winning runs, and then lose a couple, then win another eight or so, teasing you, thinking that they’re going to be title contenders but never quite getting there.
“They’re a good football team, they play the right way, but you feel they’re going to fall short, and you feel it’s going to happen again.
“It seems a bit sad saying that, but it’s a good thing in ways, it’s consistency, you’ve seen Man Utd and Chelsea dip out of the top four in recent years, so all credit for the consistency.
“But for the title, where this conversation lies, they’re still going to fall short I feel.”
While Arsenal look a side that’s more rounded and willing to dust off plan B more often than has been the case in past seasons, it’s difficult to disagree with Neville’s assessment particularly when the top two are showing little if any signs of pulling up.
The lack of European football is also just one more factor in the cons column when comparing Arsenal with their title-chasing rivals. With the Gunners scheduled to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 matters will not become much easier in the springtime.
However, for now the title is still very much there to be taken, it’s up to Arsenal to prove Neville wrong this time around.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena