Is this Arsenal squad good enough to cope until May?

By Avenell Dave

The longer Arsenal remain at the top of the table, the more concerned I have become.

Being at the top in October or November was a novelty which the pessimist in me tempered by fears that we would still be in a shootout for a top four place.

But now, with more than half the season completed and the side looked more and more assured, I become more excited about the prospect of winning the title against the odds.

And that's the rub.

No one gave Arsenal a chance at the start of the season; even less so after our opening day defeat.

But where there was frustrated resignation of another season of comparative mediocrity, now there is hope.

And it is always the hope that kills us in the end.

Because hope leads to expectation, to anticipation and even greater fear that somewhere along the line we will fall and watch those fly-by-nights propped up by artificial incomes use their financial might to overtake us.

Monday night's victory over Aston Villa couldn't have been more satisfying.

Arsene Wenger was right to say that with everyone else winning over the weekend, the pressure was on us to make sure we did not slip up.

We eased ourselves into the game and then almost put it beyond doubt with a clinical two-goal minute.

We should have been more ruthless, of course, because 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline of all, when the leading team can be prone to sitting back and the losing team knows that a single goal can change the entire complexion of the contest.

And so it proved. Perhaps we wanted to play within ourselves because of the intense schedule we are set to encounter, but we have to show more assertion to put games to bed when we are in the ascendancy.

Letting Villa back into the game was both unexpected, given their poor showing otherwise, and totally predictable given our ability to do so in the past.

But it speaks volumes that the side held out with villa pumping the ball forward in hope of an equaliser they barely deserved.

Much has been said about the need for reinforcements, notably a striker and a defender and the suspected broken foot that Nacho Monreal suffered last night further underlined the challenge we have to cope with the rigours of a top flight season.

Now is the time to be looking for players, not on the last day of January when there is a hope of getting a bargain.

We need to integrate players now, especially if they arrive from abroad and need to get used to their new surroundings.

Wenger has every right to be proud of the team's achievements so far this season and every justification in answering his critics with our record over the past 13 months.

But fatigue, suspensions and injuries are going to kick in and it would be a crime if this wonderful opportunity was lost because the club lack the determination or the bravery to bring in the players that will enhance the squad and help us cope with the challenges ahead.