Shearer praises Arsenal improvement as he makes title admission – ‘a very different team’

Date published: Sunday 18th September 2022 7:46 - Jason Soutar

Alan Shearer during a BBC broadcast

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer does not believe Arsenal are title contenders despite their excellent start to the season.

The Gunners were comfortable 3-0 winners in their Premier League encounter away to Brentford on Sunday afternoon.

Arsenal pass another test in striking style – this Gunners team is not like the others

Summer signings Fabio Vieira and Gabriel Jesus were on the scoresheet, as was William Saliba who netted his second goal of the campaign.

Mikel Arteta’s side are top of the table after picking up win number six in their seventh match.

Hype around Arsenal is growing, with Brentford boss Thomas Frank insisting: “They must be title contenders”.

It will be very difficult for any team to topple Manchester City this season, however.

Pep Guardiola’s side have looked ruthless so far with Erling Haaland leading the line.

The Norwegian striker has already scored 14 goals across all competitions this campaign with City unbeaten since the loss against Liverpool in the Community Shield on July 30.

While many, including Frank, believe the Gunners could compete with City for the Premier League title, Shearer is not so convinced.

The Premier League’s all-time scorer does like the job Arteta is doing, however, and insists his team are a lot “different” to the one that was “bullied” by Brentford on the opening day of 2021/22.

“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,” Shearer wrote in his BBC column.

“The Gunners’ 3-0 win at Brentford on Sunday epitomised their progress under Mikel Arteta, because we all remember what happened in this fixture on the opening weekend of last season – when the Bees didn’t just beat them, they bullied them.

“Everything was different about Arsenal this time – in attack and defence, plus the way they controlled the game, and with their attitude and intensity. They ran out comfortable winners.

“Part of that was down to how bad Brentford were, but it was Arsenal’s performance that made the Bees play so poorly.

“I was expecting Brentford to come out flying, knowing what worked last time, and trying to hurt Arsenal. They tried to play that way again, but it didn’t work because they faced a very different Arsenal team.

“This Gunners side is not only bigger and stronger, it is also more committed. They were better in every department and dominated right from the start.

“When the Bees did attack in the same way they had at Arsenal before, with long throws or crosses into the box, they got absolutely no joy at all.

“Their two strikers, Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo, hardly got a kick because Gabriel and William Saliba dominated them so much, and it was the same all over the pitch.”

Shearer continued: “Only four of the Arsenal team who started that defeat against Brentford began Sunday’s game too – Ben White, Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli.

“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.

“This time, they have won six out of their first seven league games and go into the international break at the top of the table. They deserve it too.”

On Arsenal’s bid to challenge the Citizens for the Premier League title, Shearer added: “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.

“Their next two league games at the start of October, at home to Spurs and Liverpool, will tell us more about whether they can sustain this strong start but, right now, their fans will be enjoying what they are seeing.”

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