Arsenal defeated Leicester City in the latest round of Premier League fixtures, keeping their noses in front of a reinvigorated Manchester City.
The Gunners are now 18-3-3, good for 57 points. And Mikel Arteta’s men also have a game in hand over the Citizens.
At King Power Stadium on Saturday, Gabriel Martinelli broke the deadlock early in the second half, and Arsenal held on to complete a routine, yet nervy, victory.
The Gunners faithful will be relieved as their team seems to have arrested a recent mini-slump of two losses and a draw.
Can Arsenal follow in the footsteps of the Invincibles?
It has been a barren few years at Arsenal; the early glory days under Arsene Wenger seem almost a lifetime away, as mediocrity has enveloped the club for several seasons.
Arteta has grown as the manager, finally taking control of the dressing room after a turbulent period in which many expected him to be sacked sooner rather than later. And now the fans dare to dream again, especially as some astute signings and steely resolve have propelled the Gunners to the top of the Premier League, a vast improvement from the inconsistent teams of yesteryear.
The current squad hope to emulate the last great Arsenal team of 2003/2004 as they chase their first league title in almost 20 years. Of course, the Invincibles went the entire season unbeaten, setting a benchmark of excellence from a squad that included the likes of Thierry Henry, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, and Dennis Bergkamp.
Today’s Gunners might be short of the overall quality of the 2003 team. However, in Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard, and Eddie Nketiah, they have a young, exciting core gathering momentum with every victory.
The season is far from over
While they look all-conquering at the moment, football is a fickle business. A few losses in succession in the latter stages, or squeaky bum time as Alex Ferguson famously said, could lead to the London club capitulating to pressure.
We can’t discount that possibility as Arsenal still have to overcome a few tricky fixtures.
Away games to Liverpool, Manchester City, and Newcastle and a home tie against Chelsea remain on the calendar, meaning there is little room for error for Arteta and his team.
The blue half of Manchester seems to be their biggest threat, with the Reds and the Blues distinctly off-color this season. Meanwhile, Arsenal will be secretly praying for City to go deep in the Champions League, chasing the only trophy that has eluded Pep Guardiola during his time there. This could distract their league campaign, giving the Gunners some breathing space in their run-in.
The Arsenal faithful, however, will wish that the team continues in this rich vein of form, silencing the doubters waiting for a slip-up. Highbury needs a fresh set of heroes to inspire a new generation of supporters. Twenty years is a long time to wait.