Arsenal's season will be defined by their performances against their fellow top six clubs

Arsenal's season will be defined by their performances against their fellow top six clubs

Few could have predicted that at this stage of the Premier League season, Arsenal would be top of the pile. Yes, the Gunners’ fixture list has been kind in the early weeks of the campaign, but Mikel Arteta’s side look a much more mature and capable outfit than they did last season.

With six wins from seven matches, not even Manchester City have been able to match Arsenal’s form, but there are still a number of question marks hanging over the team.

One of those question marks surrounds their capability of beating the Premier League’s elite teams on a regular basis. In Arsenal’s recent history, there have been far too many hammerings taken at the hands of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, and if Arteta is to get this team to a level where they can challenge for major honours, he’s going to have to ensure they are stronger in the biggest fixtures.

There is another opportunity on the near horizon for Arsenal to show their wares, and it’s a big one. There are no bigger games in the club’s season than the North London Derby against Tottenham Hotspur, and with Spurs’ trip to the Emirates Stadium just around the corner, it’s a chance for Arsenal to show they have the big-game mentality needed to come out on top.

The Gunners will have a point to prove after their capitulation at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium towards the end of last season. The 3-0 defeat to Antonio Conte’s side contributed to Arsenal missing out on Champions League football, and you can be sure that Arsenal’s players will have a fire in their bellies to make amends — along with favourite status in the Arsenal v Tottenham betting market.

But you only need to go back a few weeks to see proof that this Arsenal team still has areas of weakness that can be exploited by the biggest teams. Their one defeat so far this season came against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where despite dominating the game for large periods, Arsenal came away with a 3-1 defeat to show for their efforts.

There were key moments in that match which went against Arsenal on the day, but it continued the pattern of the North London outfit struggling to perform at optimum levels in the biggest games. If there are any positives to take, it’s that the lessons learned will serve as good preparation for taking on Tottenham.

A week on from the North London Derby, another test will come Arsenal’s way in the shape of Liverpool, again at the Emirates Stadium. If you exclude Arsenal’s win against the Reds in July 2020, which was played behind closed doors after Liverpool had already secured the Premier League title, you have to go all the way back to 2015 for the last time Arsenal beat Liverpool in the league.

It’s Arteta’s job to instil a mentality at the club where Arsenal go into games against these big teams expecting to win, rather than hoping not to lose. When all’s said and done at the end of this season, Arsenal’s final league position will have a lot to do with how they fared in these high-stakes matches.