Are Arsenal The Premier League Favourites ?

It’s been a bit of a clumsy season in the Premier League, with no one emerging as a clear favourite even as we near the middle of the season.

There have been plenty of surprises, and every time it’s seemed like one of the top clubs is gaining steam with the potential to establish some supremacy, an upset seems to come out of nowhere. One of the results of this bizarre season is that the relative dominance of Chelsea and Manchester City from recent seasons appears to be at an end, and the door looks to be open for another club to seize the domestic title.

And according to a recent statistical analysis, that other club may just be Arsenal.

Using the Euro Club Index, the analysis found that Arsenal had roughly a 34.86% chance to win the EPL, though Man City was essentially dead even at 34.06%. After those two, it was Manchester United at 21.32%, Tottenham Hotspur at 4.43%, and Leicester City at 3.10%, leaving just a 2.23% chance for a team other than those five to take the title. Compared to what we saw in preseason title odds, this is a pretty drastically altered landscape.

Before the season started, Chelsea was the title favourite, followed in order by Manchester City and then Arsenal. Man Utd., Tottenham, and Leicester were not given noteworthy odds to contend for the title, and of course Chelsea projected to be much better than it has turned out to be (with the Blues having amassed only 15 points through the first 15 weeks of matches, for a 14th place standing).

Simply put, the season has unfolded differently than just about anyone believed it would. And unlike the action in Serie A, where defending champion Juventus started slow but has swiftly climbed back toward the top, there appears to be no chance whatsoever of a Chelsea revival.  

Slowly but surely, perspective on the EPL has shifted and it’s beginning to seem that more people are favouring Arsenal than not. Certainly Man City remains in the hunt just a point behind the Gunners through 15 matches, and Man Utd. will be a deadly threat if the club is able to acquire some offensive assistance during the January transfer window. And of course, there’s Leicester City to contend with, though even now most believe the improbable league leader will fade with time.

But is Arsenal on its own deserving of favourite status? When you consider everything the Gunners have going for them, they may just be. Consider the following things about Arsenal that you just couldn’t have said a season ago: Depth Has Not Been An Issue - Arsenal has dealt with some injuries, as usual.

Jack Wilshere's health is utterly unreliable, and recently Santi Cazorla has missed time. But this season Arsenal has had the depth to withstand these kinds of setbacks, particularly given the recent emergence of Joel Campbell.

Olivier Giroud Is Deadly - Giroud has always had scoring ability, but for the most part he's been classified as a less-than-elite striker.

Now he's tied for fifth in the EPL in scoring, and recently Olivier Giroud notched a hattrick in the Gunners' thrilling Champions League win over Olympiakos. He's found a new level of late.

Goals Is Taken Care Of - Goalkeeping hasn't been a particularly dire weakness of Arsenal's, but there's a different degree of comfort when Peter Cech is in the net.

Mesut Ozil Has Come Into His Own - The simplest explanation for Arsenal's success may just be that Ozil is in world class form. The entire attack is a great deal more efficient due to his improvement in 2015/16.The Defence Is Stable - Defending has been an issue the last few seasons, but with Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal emerging as everyday players and Laurent Koscielny having his best season, the defence is far more stable than Arsenal fans have come to expect.

Each of those points represents not just a strength for Arsenal but a clear improvement from last season, when the Gunners finished third in the league. All things considered, the favourite status Arsenal seems to be on the verge of seizing appears warranted.

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