Arsenal’s title hopes took a blow at Old Trafford at the weekend but they can still reflect on an excellent start to the season.
The Gunners went into their clash with Manchester United eight points ahead of their rivals and on the back of 14 wins in their previous 15 away games in all competitions.
The gap was cut to five points courtesy of former striker Robin van Persie’s first-half header. It was Arsenal’s first Premier League defeat since the opening day of the season.
Despite the setback, Arsene Wenger’s side headed into the two-week international break two points clear at the top of the Premier League. They are also well placed to qualify from the toughest of all the Champions League groups following a magnificent win at Borussia Dortmund.
It is easy to forget Arsenal are without a host of key men, including Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski. Wenger also had to do without Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker for the United match.
Rosicky and Mertesacker, who were both missed in Manchester, will have recovered from sickness by the time Arsenal entertain Southampton on November 23, while the long-term absentees are closing in on returns.
A fully-fit Arsenal have a real chance of lifting the title in May, not least because the league is so open this term.
The bookies have not been swayed by Arsenal’s defeat to United, with BetVictor having the Gunners at 7/2 and David Moyes’ side at 9/2 to finish top of the pile.
Arsenal are well covered in midfield but could struggle if they pick up injuries in other areas of the pitch, particularly up front. Wenger will be praying Olivier Giroud, who has netted eight times so far, stays fit and healthy as he has limited options in reserve.
The experienced Frenchman should be given cash to spend in January to make sure he has all bases covered going into the business end of the season, one which represents a golden opportunity for Arsenal to end their long trophy drought.