Imagine a young football team playing in the form of their lives, staying a step ahead of their nearest opponent in the league table week-in, week-out in one of the top leagues in the world.
Would you say that the team would clinch the league title in all probability? If that winning team is Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain or Bayern Munich, the answer is yes. But Arsenal? Hell No!
For some context, Arsenal sit at the top of the English Premier League table at the time of writing this, with 69 points from 28 matches, 8 points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City with 10 games to go.
Those who follow EPL clubs, know Arsenal has a way of losing things when all seem under control.
Arsenal lost out in the top 4 race last season to local rivals Tottenham when the Gunners looked all set to grab the last UCL berth is just one of the instances.
Given their history, fans of other clubs around the world have been waiting for Arsenal to slip up for a long time now.
However, to thousands of Arsenal fans like me around the world, this Arsenal team signifies hope.
When Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery in 2019, the team was plagued with an aging squad, inflated wage bills and loss of identity.
Arteta joined, saw the decay, and decided to fix it. He, along with Edu Gaspar (the former Brazilian footballer and present Sporting Director of Arsenal) made some smart buys in the transfer market, nurtured the Academy graduates and built a very young team with players who play for each other.
When the season started, former player football pundit Gary Neville pitched his former club, Manchester United, to finish above Arsenal as did some of my Red Devils' friends. But alas, Arsenal is now 19 points clear of Manchester United in the league table, having played two games more.
To be honest, one can’t blame these doubters. The average Arsenal fan would’ve been happy with a Champions League qualification before the season started.
No one expected Arteta’s team to perform this way, and I’m not talking about winning football matches.
The swagger with which this team plays has a different aura to it. There’s so much conviction among the players with the ball at their feet.
The off-the-ball movements, understanding of spaces, ability to beat markers and the willingness to track back after losing possession, this team has displayed stuff that's been missing for a while. Self-belief has been drilled into the players and that is evident by the way the team plays the ball out from the back in tight spaces.
Add to that the energy of 50,000-odd screaming fans pushing the team along, singing songs. Even coach Mikel Arteta, who played for the Gunners for five seasons before retiring in 2016, admitted that the atmosphere around the stadium recently has been the best he’s seen. Fair to say the Emirates is bouncing these days, and not without reason.
The business end of the Premier League always promises to be a cracker with twists and turns.
Even if Arsenal lose out on the title race in the final weeks, I can safely assume the Gooners will be happy with what they’ve seen so far from this team.
Although, I’m certain this Arsenal team will not leave an inch for the opposition even as rival club supporters wait for the elephant (the one shared by them in a meme showing a jumbo sitting on top of a tree when Arsenal went on top in the first few weeks) to fall down. (By the way, those memes are nowhere to be found on social media anymore).
Come May 28, Arsenal faithful will certainly hope the Gunners go on to lift the trophy but rest assured it will not be an easy ride with Manchester City hitting peak at the right time.
So to sum up, Arsenal winning the EPL looks like a real possibility now but even if they miss out on the title, with this young team that has all but guaranteed UCL football next season, Arsenal supporters can finally dream of a new dawn.
A quote by Edward James goes like this: “It’s the hope that kills you”. Arsenal fans can certainly use the advice.