The five reasons it is a matter of when not if Arsenal win the Premier League

Arsenal's players celebrate after their victory at Tottenham
Arsenal looked well placed to challenge at home and abroad next season - Getty Images/David Price

Arsenal’s late season collapses in each of the last two campaigns prompted much angst, as they saw Champions League qualification and then the Premier League title slip through their fingers.

A popular refrain was that Arsenal would never get a better chance to achieve either goal, a fear that would subsequently prove to be overplayed as Mikel Arteta’s team continued to improve.

Regardless of whether Manchester City open the door for Arsenal to win the title this season, there are unlikely to be searching questions asked. There is a growing feeling that it is a matter of when, not if, Arsenal end the wait for a first league title since 2004.

No team remains on an upward trajectory indefinitely of course, and Arsenal are as vulnerable as any other club to football’s potential misfortunes: long-term injuries, unlucky defeats or being in the same league as Manchester City.

Nevertheless, Arsenal will end this season in a relatively serene state and a very strong position. Telegraph Sport looks at the reasons why the door will surely open if Arsenal keep knocking.

Strong underlying data

Despite the eight-point lead Arsenal established over Manchester City last season, at no stage did they boast better underlying data than Pep Guardiola’s side. Even before William Saliba’s season-ending back injury, Arsenal’s expected goals conceded numbers were starting to rise in worrying fashion post-Qatar World Cup.

This season has been different, with Arsenal almost certain to finish with the league’s best expected goal difference. You do not even have to squint at the more advanced metrics; Arsenal have scored the most goals, conceded the fewest and currently have their best-ever Premier League goal difference. Next season is a blank slate, but the football Arsenal have produced looks very sustainable.

Squad and manager entering prime years

Arsenal are not quite the youngest team in the league, but the average age of their Premier League starting XI this season is 25 years and 135 days. Only Burnley and Chelsea have recorded a younger average age. Manchester City and Liverpool’s average age is in the middle of the pack.

Arsenal have a core of players - David Raya, Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel, Declan Rice, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Kai Havertz - who are in or entering their prime years. With the futures of older central midfielders Jorginho and Thomas Partey uncertain, there is the chance to add another player to this group in this summer’s transfer market.

Sometimes overlooked is that Arteta is continuing his development as a manager as he approaches his fifth anniversary in the job. As well as his coaching acumen, Arteta has skilfully managed upwards and outwards to ensure backing from top and buy-in from supporters. The Arsenal manager has now had his first taste of trying to balance a title challenge alongside the Champions League knockout stages.

Big game results

Arsenal are unbeaten in Premier League meetings against the traditional big six this season. They claimed eight points from their four matches against title rivals City and Liverpool, the only team to win any of these head-to-head fixtures. Arteta’s team avoided defeat at the Etihad for the first time since 2016, keeping clean sheets in both matches against City, and have gained a point on their last two trips to Anfield. They have now won away north London derbies in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1987-88 and 1988-89. Arsenal look a sturdier and more assured outfit in these big games. Now they just need to work out how to beat Aston Villa.

Increased staying power

In April 2022, Arsenal lost three straight league games to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton, defeats which saw them falter in the race for a top-four finish. Last April, they drew three consecutive games against Liverpool, West Ham United and Southampton before they were ruthlessly dismantled by Manchester City.

It looked like being another miserable month this year too after defeats to Bayern Munich and Villa (and they remain costly) but Arsenal have rallied. They won five of six Premier League games in April, a run which included tricky away trips to Brighton, Wolves and Spurs.

Arsenal are heavily fancied to win their three remaining fixtures against Bournemouth, Manchester United and Everton. Should they do so, they will have won 16 of their final 18 Premier League matches, evidence that they can last the course. If Arsenal fail to win the title, they will rue some teething problems in the first half of the season rather than another botched run-in.

Instability at rival clubs

Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool this summer, and the club will operate with a different sporting structure going forward with head coach Arne Slot working under Richard Hughes and Michael Edwards. There could be some turbulence as that team beds in, and Arsenal know full well that a collegiate approach can look better on paper than it operates in reality. Manchester United could soon be looking for a new manager, should Ineos decide Erik ten Hag is not the man to take them forward. The Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules look sure to cause Chelsea problems. Spurs are in a better place under Ange Postecoglou, but have plenty of ground to make up. Of course, City remain a significant obstacle but next season is the last of Guardiola’s contract and there is the prospect of a hearing over those 115 Premier League charges.

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