The question above will seem easy to answer to people on either side of the argument apart from those who decide to sit on the fence.
The Premier League table will tell you that Arsenal are an entire three points better than Manchester City – assuming they win their game in hand. However, according to WhoScored.com based on a range of statistical categories including shots, pass accuracy, average possession and aerial duels won, Manchester City are slightly better.
So, we have a massive question to answer: is it true that Arsenal are simply inferior to the reigning champions?
Are Manchester City or Arsenal favourites for the Premier League title?
No. Arsenal are not worse than Manchester City. This discussion feels like it belongs in an NBA debate, but we must give credence to the eye test. Arsenal are electrifying in their style of play. The dynamic front line that consists of Gabriel Jesus, Leandro Trossard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, and Reiss Nelson on any given day has caused problems for all sides in the league. The defensive back line of Gabriel, William Saliba, Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko has been rather solid.
Despite an injury to the second man on that list, Rob Holding has performed admirably in his recent starts for the Gunners. The midfield wonder of Thomas Partey has propelled Arsenal to a world-class level and even when Arteta was without the Ghanaian, the smart transfer business manifesting in Jorginho resulted in massive victories.
One could go on forever about the stellar talent the Arsenal team have, but it’s more than that. Arsenal have shown a resilience reminiscent of the renowned Gunners teams of the early 2000s. Aston Villa, Bournemouth, and Manchester United are all teams that have felt the heartbreak of a 90th-minute winner at the hands of this young team. If there is one team we should not be worried about bottling the league, wouldn’t it be the team that refuses to give up?
This is not an attempt to sway the fans who are worried about losing the title to second-place Manchester City. Nor is this an irrational defamation of Pep’s management, transfer strategy, style of play or squad. The reigning Premier League champions are simply excellent and are proven winners. However, it seems rather unfair, at least to Arsenal, that they have also proven themselves to be winners this season. Either way, it is not much of a surprise, especially for Arteta who recently responded to Man City now being the statistical favourites again to win the league. The Spaniard said: “When you asked them at the start of the season it was like this. So nothing has changed.”
After Arsenal went to Anfield and drew 2-2, it seemed like many thought this was a tipping point in the title race. However, Manchester City lost at Anfield this season, and the mere fact many fans came away slightly disappointed with not capturing three points at one of the most hostile grounds in world football is a major sign of progression. Furthermore, despite a draw, Arsenal showed their champion’s DNA once again. With a stellar performance from Aaron Ramsdale saving the points at the end. They do say a great goalkeeper gets you 10-15 points a season on their own. Ramsdale certainly helps the argument.
The matchup against City later this month is the most important game Arsenal have had in the Premier League in however long. The Gunners should be confident. Although they trail in many statistical categories, WhoScored.com rates Arsenal as the best-attacking side away from home in the Premier League this season. The slight issue is that Manchester City have the best defensive rating at home. Most important will be the availability of the squad. It is easy to forget that Thomas Partey did not play against City at the Emirates which could be enough to turn the fixture in Arsenal’s favour. Second, Arsenal fans will be hoping Saliba is fit for the game as Haaland continues to show why he may be the best player in the world.
Arsenal are still in the driving seat steering towards their own destiny. As long as the team remains focused and plays at the level they have all season, the title will reside in north London.