Optimism was rife in the red half of the north London divide heading into the 2022/23 season, but very few supporters, if any, projected this sort of majesty from Mikel Arteta’s Gunners.
Arsenal currently sit in pole position at the top of the Premier League table, five points ahead of reigning champions, Manchester City, who have played a game more.
Their form has failed to waver despite the absence of key man Gabriel Jesus, who had a transformative effect on the Gunners’ attack before the World Cup, with Eddie Nketiah filling in ably.
While some are still projecting their demise, the vast majority have come to realise Arsenal’s legitimacy as a potential title winner.
However, there’s still a long way to go in the 2022/23 season, and here are six fixtures that will define the Gunners’ bid for the Premier League title.
The Gunners have passed every test they’ve faced this season, but this will undoubtedly be their toughest. The current top two meet at the Emirates on what’s poised to be a brisk Wednesday night in mid-February.
It’s a mammoth encounter as Manchester City come to town in what will be billed as an early decisive contest in the title race.
Arsenal will be hoping that their healthy lead is still intact by the time this fixture rolls around, with the two teams facing off in a prelude to their Premier League clashes in the FA Cup fourth round.
It’s been a bleak season for Liverpool thus far. There have been multiple factors in their 2022/23 demise, with injuries playing a significant role.
The likes of Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and now Virgil van Dijk are enduring lengthy spells on the sidelines, but each of these players are expected to be back in action during the second half of the campaign. Therefore the Reds should improve as the season progresses, and this trip to Anfield will be far from easy for the current table-toppers.
While Liverpool’s home ground hasn’t quite been the fortress of years past this term, Arsenal haven’t claimed victory away at the Reds since 2012.
While the first Premier League meeting between the two sides may not be a title decider as such, their April encounter very well could be if they each continue on their current paths.
Guardiola has dominated the duel with his apprentice since Arteta took charge of the Gunners, but never before will the Spaniard take such an excellent side to the Etihad.
Manchester City haven’t been beaten by Arsenal in the Premier League since 2015, with the Citizens winning 12 of the last 13 meetings in all competitions – often convincingly.
Stamford Bridge has been a happy hunting ground for Arteta’s Arsenal and they beat a depleted Chelsea side in impressive fashion before the World Cup. Their 1-0 triumph was one of their most convincing displays of the season, but the Blues will look almost unrecognisable in the reverse fixture.
This is the Mykhailo Mudryk derby, and if the Ukrainian’s exciting cameo at Anfield is anything to go by, he could have a big say at the Emirates during the run-in.
Chelsea will be desperate to get one over their London rivals and compromise their title bid.
St. James’ Park was the cauldron where Arsenal’s Champions League dream succumbed to the fire last season. The Gunners stuttered down the stretch to allow Tottenham to pip them to fourth spot, but hey, at least things have turned out okay for Arteta’s side.
The Magpies, who are making a strong bid for a top-four finish themselves, are the league’s most stubborn outfit. They’re the only domestic side to keep a clean sheet against the Gunners this season, while they are also yet to taste defeat on home soil.
This is an incredibly tough fixture for the title hopefuls. St. James’ Park will be rocking, and memories of May 2022 will loom large.
It could come down to the final day, and while their side’s position at the top is currently a healthy one, many Arsenal supporters will surely take this outcome.
Thus, the home game against Wolves could be hugely significant for Arteta’s team. This is poised to be a title race that goes down to the wire, and Julen Lopetegui’s men could have a big say in deciding the victor.
Manchester City, meanwhile, are away at Brentford on the final day.