Through 14 games last season, Arsenal had only gained 21 points and had already suffered three defeats and six ties. Today, after the same amount of games, the Gunners sit atop the Barclays Premier League with 34 points, having only lost twice and tied once. The differences between the two seasons are hard to ignore, and with the arrival of Mesut Ozil and players like Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud finding themselves in scintillating form, the Gunners have every reason to be confident going forward. Some would instruct Arsenal fans to have cautious optimism about the rest of the season, but it is clear that this team is special.
This current Arsenal squad has been a work in progress ever since Robin van Persie left for Manchester United before the beginning of last season. Arsenal struggled to fill the attacking gap that he left behind, but even though they missed his goals and had to scrap for a fourth place finish, the team is better off without him. Van Persie scored 30 out of 74, or over 40 percent, of Arsenal’s goals in his final season with the Gunners, which shows that the team relied on him heavily for their offensive output. Arsene Wenger addressed this issue by building a team that could attack from any direction and had players that could punish a team at any time.
When the transfer deadline was quickly approaching and Arsenal had only signed Yaya Sanogo, many were calling for Wenger’s job. The Frenchman shocked everyone by signing Ozil for around £42 million in a deadline day deal that would instill faith in Gooners around the world. Ozil obviously brought quality into the squad, but it was the impact his signing had on the other players that has made the biggest difference. When the players saw Wenger go out and buy one of the best midfielder in the world, it showed a desire to make the team world class.
The impact on Ramsey and Giroud is clear, as these two have been playing some of the best soccer of their careers. The defensive struggles that plagued Arsenal last year have been forgotten thanks to the formation of the partnership between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. This duo was key in the great run at the end of the season that saw Arsenal finish fourth, and they have continued their form this season. It is apparent all over the field that this Arsenal team is stronger, both physically and mentally.
It is easy to forget that Arsenal has been playing this well without three key players. Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all missed lengthy spells due to injury. Walcott has made his return to fitness and Podolski is very close, and the addition of these pacey players will only add to Arsenal’s attack.
Arsenal has started the season very positively, but there is still a long way to go. Those urging cautious optimism should realize the quality of the squad and the special way that they are playing right now. It seems like Arsenal teams of the past few years have always had plenty of skill, but were missing an x-factor. Whether Ozil is that x-factor or his mere presence has created one about the squad, this team looks and feels different. With the way the team is playing right now, there is no reason that Arsenal fans should be cautious. The past few seasons have shaped the current squad, and these players can compete with any team in the world. With the form that they are in right now, it seems like this season, they have a great chance to end their trophy drought.