Michael Owen tipped Arsenal as contenders for the Premier League title following the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Brentford at the weekend. And, while Mikel Arteta’s side were impressive as they reinstated their position at the top of the table, Alan Shearer has disagreed.
The former Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers striker claimed that there is still work to be done before the north Londoners can rub shoulders with the likes of previous winners Manchester City and Liverpool. But, that hasn’t stopped Owen from likening Arsenal to Pep Guardiola’s side.
Speaking to Premier League Productions in the wake of Brentford’s loss, the former Liverpool and Manchester United striker said: “I would have been the first person to accuse them of being soft over the last few years and they’ve definitely been that but they do have a maturity [now] despite having a lot of young players in the team.
“That performance compared to last season was different class. We looked at the fixtures they’ve played already and they have been favourable for them. The first five they won and their first big test against Manchester United they didn’t let themselves down but they stumbled.
“It was important they got back to winning ways and they did. They’re back to the top of the league. There are going to be big tests to come because they have had a favourable start but the confidence is growing, they’re maturing. If I was an Arsenal fan – after a long few years – I would be starting to get excited now.”
Shearer then responded to Frank’s prediction in his latest column for BBC Sport. The Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer wrote: “It’s not time to talk about them as title contenders yet, but people now know that this is a different Arsenal to the team we saw just 13 months ago.
“This Gunners side is not only bigger and stronger, it is also more committed,” he added. “They were better in every department and dominated right from the start.
“In just over a year, Arteta has not just built a different team, he has transformed the mood of the whole club. He deserves great credit for that, because he got a lot of criticism after the way they started last season, with three straight defeats.”
Shearer continued by claiming that Arsenal’s bright displays have been helped by the slow starts of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. He wrote: “It’s been a strange start to this campaign by some of the big clubs, with Liverpool being nowhere near the levels we know they can be.
“Chelsea have been the same, and they have had more upheaval after their change of manager. Manchester United made a really poor start too but they have recovered well, while Tottenham are still unbeaten and are right up there along with Manchester City, who are still the team to beat.
“I still think Arsenal’s main target is a return to the top four for the first time since 2016, and they have not done too much wrong so far.”