Can Arsenal maintain their form?

Sports Mole considers whether Arsenal have what it takes to mount a serious title challenge after their strong start.

Before the season started, the talk in the Premier League was about this being the year that Arsenal finally drop out of the top four. Only the most optimistic of Gunners fans would have woken up on the morning of transfer deadline day believing that their side were in with a chance of winning the title for the first time since 2004.

However, following the arrival of Mesut Ozil for a club-record fee and the impressive start to the season that has seen them win 10 games on the trot. That matches the best run of their 'Invincibles' season, and while there is a long way to go does this side have it in them to continue the run?

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline during his team's Champions League group match against Napoli on October 1, 2013© Getty Images

The sudden revival in Arsenal's form is perhaps all the more surprising given the injury problems that have plagued the start to their season. Santi Cazorla, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott all are or have been out injured already this season, yet the Gunners currently sit top of the league after six games.

With the injury problems faced, Arsenal have been down to the bare bones at times. However, key striker Olivier Giroud has managed to stay fit throughout. Big and powerful, Giroud has all the attributes to lead the line of any Premier League side.

His six goals in all competitions this season have kept the club's tally ticking over, but it is his movement and determination that make him so vital. With only Yaya Sanogo and Nicklas Bendtner as senior backups, his remaining fit is perhaps what is holding this run of form together. If he has a few bad games or suffers an injury points could well start to be dropped.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal against Sunderland on September 14, 2013© Getty Images

The problem with having such a small available squad is competing on three fronts. Arsenal have started their Champions League campaign very well, too, but with the same players playing twice a week on a consistent basis the chances are something will give. However, on the flip side, it can lead to squad players really stepping up their game, which has been the case for Aaron Ramsey this season.

The Welshman simply cannot stop scoring. He did not find the net in the Gunners' most recent victory at home to Napoli, which put an end to his run of five goals in four games. Perhaps the key factor in his recent performances has been just how well he has linked up with Ozil. While Ozil sits further forward behind Giroud, Ramsey is allowed to break forward into the space created and does so with devastating effect.

It might not be long before defences and midfields start seeing Ramsey as a dangerman and he could well find himself getting marked out of games. It will be his response to this that will decide whether Ramsey - and Arsenal in turn - can continue the early form shown so far.

Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey battle for the ball during their Champions League match on October 1, 2013

Of course, the attacking players cannot be allowed to do their thing without a semblance of solidity at the back. This is arguably what Arsenal have lacked since that 'Invincibles' team of the mid-2000s, but at least at the start of this season it has returned somewhat. Ignoring the opening game, in which they conceded three at home to Aston Villa, the Londoners have let in just four goals in five games.

If you ask Wenger, a big part of this new-found stability is down to Wojciech Szczesny, with the goalkeeper now more commanding from crosses and when coming out to stifle strikers. Szczesny was dropped last season after a string of poor performances, but has come back better than ever and with his current form and age - just 23 - Arsenal have what could be a top-class keeper for years to come.

At the moment, everything from back to front is just clicking. When his players begin to return Wenger will need to manage inevitable slumps of form with the introductions of missing faces. Should he manage this successfully, then there is no reason Arsenal cannot mount a serious title challenge once again.

Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid attacks during the pre season friendly match between Bournemouth and Real Madrid at Goldsands Stadium on July 21, 2013
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