Ian Wright has claimed that Arsenal can go all the way to lift the Premier League title is Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard and Thomas Partey stay fit.
THE LOWDOWN: HALTED MOMENTUM
Arsenal drew at home to Newcastle United on Tuesday to slow their momentum down in the Premier League. However, it was not a game where they were outplayed and Mikel Arteta will be largely pleased with his team’s performance.
The usually suspects, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah alongside Saka and Ødegaard were unable to find their rhythm while facing off against a very solid Newcastle defence.
It is a minor setback for the Gunners whose lead at the top has been extended to eight points. And Ian Wright, who is the club’s second all-time leading goalscorer in history, is confident of their chances of finally winning the league after almost 20 years in the wilderness.
He believes, however, that Saka, Ødegaard and Ghanaian enforcer Partey are the sides key players and that all will be well as long as they stay fit.
THE LATEST: KEY TRIO CRUCIAL TO ARSENAL’S SUCCESS
Speaking just before the draw against Newcastle United on Tuesday, Wright said: “I keep saying it’s just about enjoying the moment. The players are clearly dialled into what they’re doing but it’s going to be tough.
“We know how good Manchester City are and they’re probably the only team who could take a couple of injuries to key players and still win the league.
“Arsenal fans know this is a very special time, it feels good and they’re answering every question right now. But if there are a couple of injuries it could be a different story.
“There’s still a chance Arsenal will try and sign a couple of players in January. But when you look at the team this season, Saka’s done it, Partey’s done it, Ødegaard has done it.
“Those are the ones, if Partey, Ødegaard and Saka stay fit – which is going to be very tough – then I think Arsenal have got a very good chance of winning the league.”
THE VERDICT: CRUNCH PERIOD LIES AHEAD
Ødegaard could be put into rotation as the games come hard and fast, with Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith-Rowe available to take up his role behind the attackers. Partey has Mohamed Elneny to cover for him, but Saka is the only player without a backup who is trustworthy.
Reiss Nelson has shown his versatility and adaptability, as well as his ability when called upon to fill in for Saka. However, he has not gotten too many chances which points to how Mikel Arteta sees him in the current scope of things.
Wright’s fears may come true and Arsenal fans will have to see one or all of these three go out due to fitness issues sometime down the line.
Not only are their fitness records worrisome, the Gunners will be playing almost 20 games in the next few months and this could cause a rush of fatigue.
It remains to be seen what they do in the January transfer window to help mitigate an impending failure after a season with so much promise.