Arsenal march boldly towards the title: Can they make a breakthrough this season?

After a hard-fought last-minute win at Brentford, Arsenal have won their eighth straight in the EPL but can they stop conceding 'easy' goals

by Sededin Dedovic
Arsenal march boldly towards the title: Can they make a breakthrough this season?
© Justin Setterfield / Getty Images

Arsenal's win over Brentford was very tense with a lot of potential to go the other way. The three points were secured, but the manner in which they won served as a stark reminder of the challenges ahead in their quest for the title.

Applause for their fighting spirit is warranted, but there remains a nagging uneasiness about their susceptibility to lapses in concentration. This kind of decline of the game followed Arsenal last season as well, when they ended up losing the race for the championship title after great games all season.

The late winner's elation was tinged with a sense of "what might have been." Aaron Ramsdale, the hero of the second half with his key saves, was also the villain in Brentford's first goal, allowing a baffling error to equalise.

While his narrative of redemption will surely be the focus of the headlines, underlying issues of inconsistency remain. If Arsenal aims to win the title this season, in addition to the goalkeeper, other players must find a way to establish their form.

Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal celebrates after Rice scored goal against Brentford© Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

At their best, Arsenal are definitely a force to be reckoned with, but a lot of young players and some unexplained reasons lead to strange mistakes.

Their attacking power is certainly undeniable, and no defense in the league cares to play against Arsenal. However, after Saturday's victory, Arsenal sat in the first position and their winning streak of 8 games in a row instilled a feeling of optimism in the fans and management.

However, moments of fragility, such as we saw last season, do not instill confidence that Arsenal will remain the leader. Memories of last season's capitulations against Liverpool and West Ham in crucial title games are a constant reminder of their vulnerability.

The game against Brentford unfolded in predictable phases. Arsenal's dominant first half, with the opening goal a mere formality, lulled them into a false sense of security. The drop in intensity after the injury layoff – a recurring feature in their recent bouts – proved costly.

Suddenly, the game was level and echoes of past defensive lapses reverberated through the Emirates crowd. What followed was a period of frenetic despair. Arsenal, desperate to regain the lead, were becoming more and more disorganized.

The frustration was palpable, mirroring similar situations last season against West Ham and Bournemouth. However, unlike those encounters, luck came in the form of a late winner from Kai Havertz.

Kai Havertz of Arsenal scores his teams second goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brentford FC© Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

This narrative of grabbing, of wresting victory from the jaws of defeat, has become a familiar trope for Arsenal.

While it can be romanticized as a sign of character, it also raises concerns about their ability to withstand the challenge of the title. Dramatic late goals may not always help, and the key to those goals is luck. The second part of the season has started and it is still not known whether this victory means resilience or a worrying trend.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between. The fighting spirit to save the game is commendable, but the ease with which they relinquished control is cause for alarm. Of course, it may sound illogical to write like this because Arsenal is currently in the best form in the league, but it was the same last year when the Gunners experienced a terrible drop in form in this part of the year and lost the huge advantage they had.

The spotlight inevitably falls on the goalkeepers and especially on Aaron Ramsdale. His mistake was undoubtedly a turning point. The debate over whether regular playing time would have prevented such a lapse is hypothetical.

However, the arrival of David Raya on loan from Brentford has undoubtedly increased control in the goalkeeping position. Raya's presence, even though he is out due to ineligibility against his parent club, serves as a reminder of the need for consistency.

Ramsdale's first appearance since the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool was a rollercoaster, redemption interspersed with costly error. The incident involving Ramsdale is only a symptom of a larger problem. Arsenal's defensive weaknesses have been a recurring theme throughout the season.

Their recent struggles against West Ham and Fulham were stark reminders of this vulnerability. With two good defenders, it's hard to imagine how strong the Arsenal team would be, even though they would probably go through the league.

The Brentford game offered a microcosm of Arsenal's season so far. Periods of dominance punctuated by inexplicable lapses in concentration. The attacking talent is undeniable, but the defensive solidity required for a sustained title challenge remains elusive.

The upcoming matches will be a real test of their determination. Can they learn from their mistakes of last season and develop the mental strength to overcome the pressure of the title race? Regardless of everything, Arsenal is currently stepping bravely towards the title, but we will see if they will stay firmly on that path.