If there’s any unanswered inquiry into just how much competition Arsenal face in the race for a top four finish this season, a glance at the current Premier League table certainly satisfies that curiosity. With the top two apparently pulling away from the chasing pack (despite Manchester City’s shock defeat to Norwich City), the rest of the traditional top six, (excluding Leicester City) are all stuck with 8 points, having all won twice, drawn on two occasions and tasted defeat once. While varying circumstances have led to each result, the reality of the competitive stalemate we are witnessing indicates a trend that has been evident since the end of last season.
As it’s been observed in the past couple of weeks of the 2019/2020 Premier League campaign, it is quite striking that Arsenal alongside Chelsea and Spurs have all blown 2-goal leads at this stage of this season while Manchester United have been pegged back twice, therefore making obvious, the underlying fact that the competitive edge in English’s top flight remains on an upward trajectory. Simply put, there are no guarantees for any of the aspirants of the now highly coveted top four finish.
How do Arsenal pull away from this dragging trend?
Certainly, having the best summer out of the chasing pack surely needs to count for something.
Considering the circumstances that had befallen the club following the disappointing end to last season, Head of Football Raul Sanllehi and the rest of the Arsenal hierarchical Influencers found a genius way to get this team to the most complete level possible, in order to realistically achieve a top four finish.
While recent results have put that approach under pressure for the immediate impact the team currently needs, it is important to note that a new collective core including the likes of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock have appeared to act as brand new options, whose skillets the team were crying out for throughout Unai Emery’s first season at the club. Moreso, taking into account, the stunning contribution those two fresh young guns of London Colney have displayed whenever given the chance this season, we are well within our rights to classify them as new additions to the team.
The best use of youth holds the aces
A particularly intriguing aspect of this season is the decision of the top four hopefuls to inevitably take a bold step to rely on the enthusiastic and talented pool of high-ceiling youngsters at their respective teams. At Arsenal, the likes of Matteo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka have all expressed themselves positively to the elation of the fan base, with the level of faith placed in them so far this season.
In like manner, evidently stemming from a transfer ban, there is also currently an increasing burning excitement at Stamford Bridge, based on the blistering start the youthful bunch of players such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori have made to the new campaign, while the duo of Callum Hodson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-cheek are primed to join the aforementioned at some point in the season, after respective long layoffs through injury.
In similar fashion, fellow London rivals Tottenham have prioritized youth development as the standard benchmark for success at this point in their era. Although the reliance of youth have not reached the heights shown by any of the other top four enthusiasts this term, the emergence of infant gems including Oliver Skipp, Juan Foyth, Ryan Sessegnon and Kyle-Walker Peters is worth keeping an eye on, for a couple of reasons that will be disected on another day.
Interestingly, the club who had the resources to go in a different and more trusted dimension, have equally put all their eggs into the prodigious basket of highly rated talent. A significant chunk of investment has brought in the likes of Aaron Wan-Bisaka and Daniel James, while the trio of Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford have had positive starts to the Old Trafford project.
At Leicester, the club is currently walking the talk, as the faith placed in James Maddison, Hamsa Choudhury, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans have been rewarded, with front burner start the youthful core have shown in the early stages of the current season.
Having pointed out the underlying trend of massive youth involvement at top clubs in England, it becomes overly comprehensible that the best use of the reliance of these talents is ultimately the key to gaining an edge in the fascinating top four race. Essentially the club who find the best possible balance between game management and freedom of expression involving these same respective crop of youths are primed to achieve the much coveted satisfaction of a top four finish. With Arsenal possessing the youngest squad in the Premier League this season, alongside enough quality to manage the expectations of their “wonderkids”, the balance currently building is certainly capable of gaining end game rewards when the curtains close on club football in May, 2020.
The Europa gains
As was highlighted in the return to Champions League action in midweek, there’s no margin for error for Chelsea. Hence, balancing group stage qualification with top 4 aspirations with the same team is a real dilemma Frank Lampard is faced with. However Emery could keep his Premier League side fresh and quite distinct from Europa League selections, just like we saw in the resounding 3-0 victory over Frankfurt on Thursday. While the outstanding Bukayo Saka seized the opportunity handed to him, it still feels reassuring to know that he and the likes of Joe Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe can substantiate their learning curves whilst playing in Europe, and gradually eased into Premier League action.
Apparently, having the longest phase without Champions League football among the traditional top six is irritating enough but like Spurs, having sufficient ammunition in the form of two world class strikers as well as a smartly assembled tactical support system should propel us back to the elite stage of European football, provided the players crave a return to the Champions League as much as the fans desperately anticipate.
Post by @KingHenryTheFif
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