Arsenal finished a difficult November with a stylish 3-1 win over Bournemouth to leave them within touching distance of the league leaders, and fans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their team’s prospects in 2017. The Gunners are now 9/1 fourth favourites to win the Premiership and it could be a good time to take advantage of a few free bets offers and wager some money on Arsenal.
The Gunners always struggle in November. It is statistically the worst month in terms of points per game for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s long tenure, and November 2016 was no different. But Arsenal navigated a tricky period and emerged with a respectable five points from a possible nine, made respectable because two of the opponents were Tottenham and Man Utd. Arsenal didn’t play well against their north London rivals or against Jose Mourinho’s side, but they got a point from each game, then beat Bournemouth to ensure they remain unbeaten in all competitions since the first day of the season.
On that day an inexperienced centre back partnership of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding was ripped apart by a rampant Liverpool, who ran out 4-3 winners. Chambers was shipped off on loan to Middlesbrough and Holding has barely seen any action since. Shrokdran Mustafi was signed from Valencia and has formed a fantastic defensive partnership with Laurent Koscielny – who is surely now the best centre back in the Premiership – and that has been the bedrock of Arsenal’s exceptionally long unbeaten run.
Arsenal’s next few games are a lot less daunting: West Ham away, Southampton at home and Stoke at home. Arsenal could well get seven or nine points from those three, before they go into another hazardous period that sees them play Everton and Man City, before a home clash with West Brom on Boxing Day. Chelsea, Liverpool and City are all in superb form, but it is entirely conceivable that the Gunners will still be clinging to their coattails by the time they entertain a truly woeful Crystal Palace side on New Year’s Day. Palace cannot stop conceding goals and a big win could set the tone for another stellar calendar year.
Arsenal earned more points than any other Premiership team in 2013 and they repeated the feat in 2015. Sadly they didn’t do so well in 2012, 2014 and haven’t been the best team in 2016 so far. Perhaps the disruption caused by a major summer tournament (Euro 2012, World Cup 2014, Euro 2016 etc) affects them badly, and they really come to life in odd calendar years. By that reckoning, 2017 could be another great year for Arsenal, and if they repeat their form of 2013 and 2015, they could well give Wenger a first title in more than a decade.
Man City are 2/1 favourites and many people will take up free bet offers to back Chelsea at 9/4, as they have won seven on the bounce and are in superb form since changing their system in the wake of a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal, and they don’t have the distraction of playing in Europe, while Man City and Arsenal have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League. Another team without the distraction of playing in Europe is Liverpool, managed by the brilliant Jurgen Klopp, and the Reds are 10/3 third favourites. But Arsenal finished ahead of all three of those teams last season, and they are just three points behind Chelsea now and two behind City and Liverpool, so it seems strange to see them so generously priced at 9/1. The bookies don’t seem to fancy them, but Arsenal are more resolute than they have been in recent seasons, they have a strong defensive core, strength in depth and pace, flair and ingenuity going forwards, so 2017 could finally be their year.