By Aliyu Yakubu Yusuf
Arsenal are far and away the best English Premier League team so far this season. Of course, football is always a team game, but whenever I look at Arsenal, I realise that their title aspiration rests on the form and fitness of five players: Saliba, Zinchenko, Partey, Odegaard, Saka and Jesus.
So far, Arsenal have been lucky with injuries. Their only casualty is Gabriel Jesus, for whom Eddie Nketiah has deputised admirably. But can Arsenal fare well if (or rather when) injuries strike? This is where squad depth comes in handy.
As it stands, Mikel Arteta relies heavily on his preferred starting lineup featuring Ramsdale, White, Gabriel, Saliba, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli and Jesus (Nketiah). If (and it’s a big IF) this group stays healthy and firing on all cylinders, Arsenal will walk away with the English Premier League title.
But has there ever been a coach whose preferred starting lineup stays healthy and firing throughout the season? Well, I don’t know any. So the onus is on Arteta to extract good performances from the likes of Tomiyasu, Tierney, Smith-Rowe, Lokonga, Vieira and Holding. If these fringe players follow the footstep of Nketiah, then Arsenal will be home and dry.
My conclusion is that if Arsenal are ever going to be stopped, it is going to be because of a lack of squad depth. If they are lucky with injuries, then the rest of the Premier League should just aim to be the best of the rest.
Aliyu wrote from Kano, Nigeria. He can be reached via email@example.com.
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