Andy Gray says that the week ahead could well define Arsenal's season.
Last Updated: 25/01/11 7:11pm
Arsenal were written off at the start of the season but not by me. Right from day one I said that I was astonished that people were writing them off before a ball was kicked and that they would be the team that everyone would target to try and get fourth place from.
But I looked at the squad and saw that there are so many good players there that I couldn't believe they weren't given a hope of challenging for the title.
I thought they would have a very good season, but I never quite thought they would hit the heights they have hit.
The real challenges come within the space of a week as they travel to Anfield for Super Sunday and then face the Champions at the Emirates next Saturday, both of which I will be commentating on - and I can't wait.
Arsene Wenger will be thinking 'if we come through it, great. If we get a point at Anfield and beat Manchester United it would be fantastic'.
But the fact of the matter is, even if the results go against them the vital factor will be how this Arsenal team will react.
They are sweeping everybody else aside at the moment and it won't be easy for them against the top three sides, we know that, but it's how they react when, and if, they suffer a defeat or a couple of defeats in a row, that will determine their season.
They're not going to collapse and disappear into mid-table - that just won't happen. So Sunday is undoubtedly the toughest test for them so far.
With football the way it is, having watched what I thought was a very ordinary Liverpool side on Wednesday [in the 2-1 defeat to Besiktas] and having watched Arsenal's brilliant performance against Slavia Prague on the TV in Turkey the night before, I would say that it wouldn't surprise me if Liverpool won. Because that simply is football, it's ridiculous.
But if Liverpool stand off Arsenal and allow them as much of the ball as they did against Besiktas it might prove costly.
Boys to men
Apart from the obvious players - Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor - every player has impressed me so far. But I would like to point out the unsung heroes - [Mathieu] Flamini keeping out Gilberto means that he must be doing something right and the boys at the back tend not to get much hype or press, but they have done very well up to now.
Obviously Fabregas has upped the ante this year with his performances and at the start of the season I thought that Tomas Rosicky having only had a season in the Premier League and Aleksandr Hleb having played a couple of years here now, would improve this year and I have been proved right.
The injury to Van Persie will be a big loss - he's a good player and can do special things. And Theo Walcott looks like he will fulfil his promise after a decent game against Slavia Prague, but playing against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United is different.
And Eduardo hasn't quite got it going yet - maybe he's for next year. But it's a real blow for Arsenal for Van Persie to be out so early in the season, especially as he's been playing well and was forming a nice partnership with Adebayor.
But as they showed on Tuesday night, it's not a blow that will necessarily be fatal.
Arsenal look more solid now and may not be as easily roughed up as they have been in the past, but they have weaknesses, of course they do. Their weakness is when they don't have the ball! How good are they at stopping others play? How good at defending are Hleb, Rosicky and Fabregas? That remains to be seen over the course of a whole season.
They've had a fabulous start and have as good a chance as anyone of winning the Premier League this season - at this point that's all I will say. Whether they can go all the way will depend on not getting too many injuries to key players, how much luck they get in big games, and if everything goes their way, of course they've got a chance.
Ten years into his reign and Wenger started off the season with his team probably playing better football than they have ever done. So what more can you say than: stay for a bit longer Arsene.
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