Arsenal sit pretty at the top of the Premier League having enjoyed their best start to a season since the 2007-08 campaign.
Mikel Arteta‘s side have picked up 24 points out of a possible 27 on offer having won eight of their opening nine games. Their only blip has been the 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford – a ground they have won just once at in the top-flight since September 2006.
And in truth the Gunners were unlucky not to pick up a point as they were beaten on the counter-attack by Erik ten Hag’s ruthless Red Devils. Since that defeat at the Theatre of Dreams last month, the Gunners have beaten Brentford away, before blasting away Tottenhan and Liverpool at the Emirates.
A win in Sunday’s trip to Leeds would be the club’s best ever start to a Premier League season which was set during the 2007-08 term. Only those two Arsenal sides failed to end up winning the Premier League, with the club in search of a first championship since the Invincibles in 2004.
After nine games played in the 2007-08 campaign, Arsenal had racked up 25 points as they won eight and drew away at Blackburn. Their tenth game of the season saw them pick up a dramatic point at Anfield after Cesc Fabregas scored a late equaliser against Liverpool.
So if Arsenal beat the Whites at Elland Road this weekend, they will seal their place in club history. Raved as one of the most exciting Arsenal teams Arsene Wenger ever produced, the legendary Frenchman put his faith in young players – just as Arteta is doing now.
In statistics obtained by Opta, the starting average age for Wenger’s team 15 years ago from their first nine fixtures was 24 years and 310 days.
Incredibly, Arteta’s side is younger than that of his former mentor’s, with his squad’s average age coming in at 24 years and 191 days. Another eerily similar stat is the goals scored by the two teams, with Arsenal’s current team banging in 23 goals compared to the 21 from 07-08’s crop.
Although the current side have conceded 10 goals – four more strikes than Wenger’s fledglings. Possession-based free-flowing football was always a key priority for Wenger, with his team having 59 per cent of the ball. And Arteta is looking to follow in his footsteps in terms of the 72-year-old’s philosophy, with his table-toppers so far enjoying 57 per cent of the possession.
He has made just 10 changes to his line-ups compared to Wenger’s 17 heading into the 10th game of the campaign. Many have questioned whether this inexperienced side, who haven’t been involved in a title race in years, can sustain the pressure at the top.
Well history is in their favour as Arsenal’s 07-08 team, who came forth the previous season after finishing 21 points behind champions Manchester United, ended up just four points shy of the Red Devils that year.
They eventually ended the season in third spot, and would have won the league had it not been for their spell in February and March where they failed to win in five consecutive matches.
The horrific leg break suffered by Eduardo away at Birmingham in the 2-2 draw, where James McFadden scored a 95th minute equaliser, undoubtedly had a huge psychological effect on the young team.
William Gallas sulked and sobbed on the pitch following the full-time whistle in what was to be a sign of things to come. The result at St Andrew’s was followed by draws against Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Wigan before Arsenal were beaten away at Chelsea.
But they still managed to finish strong after winning their last four fixtures as they lost just three out of their 38 matches in the Premier League.It is towards the end of the season that Arsenal generally fade away. A win against Leeds on Sunday would be Arsenal’s best ever start to a Premier League season.
But one thing is for certain, this Arsenal team have found themselves in a Premier League title race whether they like it or not.
And if they keep up their excellent form heading into the New Year after the World Cup, history tells us they will be fighting for top honours.
- A TalkSport report