Arsenal were left frustrated by Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday in a match that put an end to their run of seven wins on the spin in all competitions. The draw against the north east club was not exactly what Arsene Wenger was looking for on his 67th birthday, however, the home side were not sharp enough in front of goal to take all three points.
The Gunners are now out to 11-2 in the Betway football odds markets for the Premier League title this season, despite the fact they are in a three-way tie at the top of the standings on 20 points along with Manchester City and Liverpool.
Manchester City are ahead of Arsenal in the betting at 7-5, however, they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Southampton. Manager Pep Guardiola is facing one of the toughest spells of his career as his side have not won now in five games.
Liverpool are also above the Gunners in the outright market and can now be backed at 7-2 as they continued their impressive stretch of results with a 2-1 home win over West Brom.
Arsenal dominated the possession against Boro, but did not quite create enough chances to make the most of their time on the ball. They did find the back of the net in injury time when Mesut Ozil beat Victor Valdes, however, it was ruled offside.
The result adds further fuel to the argument that Wenger went into this season short of strikers. Alexis Sanchez has made a good start to the campaign with six goals to his name, however, he has not had enough support. The Gunners were linked with a number of players in the summer including Jamie Vardy and Gonzalo Higuain, however, a deal for either of those men could not be made.
Before their next Premier League tie, Arsenal are in action in the EFL Cup when they host Reading at the Emirates Stadium. Wenger will certainly be tempted to rest some of his first-team regulars for that tie. The team he fields should be good enough though to book a place in the quarter-final of a competition the Gunners have not won since 1993. Success in this tournament would give Arsenal fans something to cheer about at Wembley and take the pressure off Wenger and the squad going into the final third of the season.
Arsenal are back in Premier League action next weekend where they will be expected to get back to winning ways against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. David Moyes’ men are rock bottom of the table on two points and have yet to taste victory this season in the league.
Wenger’s side are then on the road in the Champions League where they take on Ludogorets. They won the home tie against the Bulgarian side 6-0 so should have little trouble in that fixture. A win in that away game could see them qualify for the last 16 of the competition with two games to spare.
The schedule then becomes tough for Arsenal as they are at home to Spurs in the north London derby and then travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in tough back-to-back games. That will be a real test of their title credentials, despite it being so early in the season.
If Arsenal can come through those two tough fixtures in a strong position, confidence will be sky high in the camp and if Wenger does need to add to his squad in January it will improve his chances of attracting the right players as they will be in the hunt for the Premier League title.