It’s beginning to look a lot like Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez

A man of the match display from their talismanic forward? The return of a key player met with the injury to another? A defeat to a top four side followed up with a routine win over a bottom half dweller? It’s beginning to look a lot like Arsenal.

More so than any other team in the Premier League an Arsenal season comes with a set of guarantees. Wenger welcomed Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil back into his squad for the visit of Stoke, but despite the Arsenal squad finally having a semblance of depth, they still sit alongside Hull City as the team with the second most injuries in the Premier League (8). Welbeck, Chambers and Arteta should all be in contention to face Man City on Sunday, but Arsenal fans will be fearing the next big set back is just around the corner.

So long as Sanchez is on the pitch however you feel Arsenal have a chance of delivering on their yearly minimum of a top four finish. He delivered the type of performance that Arsenal fans are getting used to seeing at the Emirates, setting up the opener for Koscielny before sealing the game with goals number 2 and 3. The Chilean looks a front runner for the PFA Player of the Year award thanks to his 12 goals and 7 assists, but his influence extends beyond his killer end product.

His energy is infectious and Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky in particular seem inspired by his win at all costs attitude. The trio gave the likes of Cameron, Whelan and Nzonzi a long Sunday afternoon.

Another unwelcome trend that is becoming more of a tradition as the seasons go by at Arsenal is their struggles against the top sides.

While a couple of big performances against the those around them may have been the difference between 4th and 1st last season, this time around they may be necessary for Arsenal to guarantee an 18th successive season in the Champions League. Southampton’s own European ambitions are still being dismissed by most, but their 4 game losing streak is well behind them now, and they could end the weekend 6 points clear of 5th with only 16 games left to play.

A 1-0 home win against Man City in April 2012 was the last time Arsenal beat either City, Chelsea, or Man Utd (a run of 17 matches), and the 6-3 defeat at Eastlands in 2013 was the first of three away day horror shows for the Gunners last season. With their run in including the visit of Chelsea to the Emirates and a trip to Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend of the season (games that may be vital in Arsenal’s hunt for the top four) there is no better time than now to end that jinx.

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