Premier League: Don’t believe the Arsenal title hype

This scepticism is doubtless the result of fancying Arsenal in pre-season several times before (back in the days when they would be available to back at double figures) and being stung, but surely there is no way that they should be as short as [5.6] to win the Premier League?

The Gunners haven’t achieved a top-two finish since 2004/05, let alone first place. The competition is far fiercer now than it was for most of that period, as demonstrated by Manchester City breaking the transfer record for an English player to sign Raheem Sterling and Manchester United capturing Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay.

Between them, that pair have won four of the past five titles, yet there they both are in the same price bracket as the third-and-fourth-frequenting north Londoners at [4.0] and [6.0] respectively.

Yes, Arsenal performed admirably in the second half of last term, but they still ended it with four points fewer than they did when brushing off Everton for fourth in 2013/14.

There are also plenty of examples of them closing a campaign forcefully, only for it to lead nowhere. You don’t even have to look back far: they won their final five games and the FA Cup last year, and then opened 2014/15 with two league victories from eight.

If it isn’t their end-of-season form or 2014/15 points haul causing the surge of support, it has to be assumed that the £10 million purchase of Petr Cech is perceived as a significant turning point. It shouldn’t be.

Is Cech better than David Ospina? Quite possibly, but nobody was claiming that the Colombian was the reason why they missed out last season. It was impossible to do so because he conceded just 11 goals in 18 Premier League starts.

Instead, the consensus was that the two transfer window priorities were a defensive midfielder and a prolific striker. Two months on from their last top-flight fixture, both issues remain unresolved.

There is no question that buying a Chelsea legend is positive PR, though it is still a case of spending a hefty sum on a player that the side that they are aiming to usurp no longer need, giving them more funds with which to strengthen their first team in the process.

For all John Terry’s unqualified projections about Cech being worth 12 to 15 points to Arsenal, he isn’t as impressive a statement signing as Alexis Sanchez last summer or Mesut Ozil the year before.

Both arrived in their prime after campaigns in which they had started 23-plus league games for arguably the two biggest clubs on the planet, and neither were able to single-handedly drive the Gunners to the title, despite Alexis in particular having a massive impact.

Cech is no more outstanding an addition than either of those and he alone won’t be the difference between first and third. It is only if his decision inspires other world-class players to make the same move in this window that he can be considered the man who transformed Arsenal.

However, the fact that the FA Cup winners stood and watched as long-term target Schneiderlin joined Man United suggests that there are no guarantees whatsoever that they will complete the more essential upgrades that they require.