Battling Arsenal capable of challenging

Arsenal’s narrow victory over Burnley at the weekend may not have been the most convincing but it took their tally to 8 successive league wins this season, which is something that no other side have been able to manage.The Gunners’ progression this year is perhaps best emphasised when contrasting their fortunes with Manchester City. After the first league game of 2015, with 20 matches played Manuel Pellegrini’s men were completely level at the top with Chelsea, while Arsenal sat 13 points behind in 6th. 12 games down the line Arsenal are second, two places and 5 points ahead of City, managing a remarkable 18-point swing in the space of less than four months.While any chance of competing for the title were all but ended by their former sweetheart Cesc Fabregas’ late winner for Chelsea at the weekend, many are now suggesting that Arsenal are now ready to put up a serious fight for the Premier League crown next season. We may have heard it all before but look into the stats and 5 changes that suggest that Arsene Wenger’s side have made genuine progress this season, meaning this current purple patch could prove to be more than that.


The go-to line when criticising Arsenal is becoming far less accurate. Sacrificing a player like Mikel Arteta, albeit through injury initially, and dropping the more adventurous Santi Cazorla alongside the revelation that has been Francis Coquelin has proved a masterstroke. The Gunners are more ambitious in their approach play, which has seen both their pass accuracy (now 82.9%) and possession (now 55.7%) figures drop from last season.No side had a better pass accuracy than Arsenal last season but they now rank fifth in that regard and while this may not seem like an improvement it has enabled progress further forward. The Gunners are quicker and more forward-thinking with their passing and as a result have created – and been willing to take on – more shots at goal. As many as 7 sides attempted more shots last season but a jump from 13.8 to 15.5 per game this season now sees them rank second only to Manchester City.
With 14 goals and 8 assists to his name it’s been a superb first season at the Emirates from the Chilean, who has played his part in this sensational run of form despite claims that he has gone off the boil. Sanchez may not be stealing all the glory anymore but his willingness to integrate into a system that is clearly best for the team has seen those around him able to flourish, whilst still offering a significant threat himself.