The job was simple for Unai Emery when he arrived at Arsenal last season: bring the club back to the UEFA Champions League.
Last season proved to be a near miss in both domestic and European competitions, placing pressure on the Spaniard to make sure he reaches his goal this time.
The football may not have convinced many, but one defeat in eight games while standing one point behind champions Manchester City should provide hope; it's a results business after all. City are suffering a defensive crisis following the departure of leader Vincent Kompany is while Aymeric Laporte remains a crucial miss with injury, leaving Guardiola's side heavily vulnerable. Their problems can be seen within Arsenal's closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur too, with dressing room unrest and low. confidence leaving Spurs in a precarious position.
The Gunners aren't perfect by any stretch but with others faltering, Emery has a window of opportunity. With the top four spots in the view, will they reach it by May?
Utilise Attacking Armoury
Blessed with a possible front-three worth a reported £176.5 million combined, the attacking options are looking healthy for the Gunners. The injury to Alexandre Lacazette has prevented fans from seeing the dynamite trio in full flow together, but main marksman Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has been leading by example, scoring seven goals in eight games this campaign following on from a joint-Golden Boot winning season scoring 22 goals.
Aubameyang is the fastest to reach 25 Premier League goals for Arsenal ahead of Thierry Henry and Ian Wright and has been the consistent, go-to guy for Emery this season, stepping up with individual quality to lead his team up the Premier League table.
As new record-signing Nicolas Pepe adapts to English football week-by-week, it is critical that the manager finds the right combinations to get the best from his potent forwards. City and Spurs will never have problems for goals with Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane leading the lines, so Emery must make sure his tactics get the best out of his attackers to be just as prolific.
Squad Depth Strength
Their best team may not be as strong as the champions or their North London foes, but the depth in the squad may be on Arsenal's side. The talents coming through the Hale End academy have been blossoming this campaign; Bukayo Saka has been a stand-out with a goal and two assists in his Europa League debut, as well as notching an assist for Aubameyang at Old Trafford. Likewise, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have also stepped up and shown they are first-team ready.
Arsenal's defence has been a cause for concern but full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are still to come into first team football while Rob Holding is knocking on the door too. Comparatively, Spurs are suffering the loss of maligned Kieran Trippier whilst City continue to have centre back issues, reflecting their lack of options in key positions.
Emery's has good tactical flexibility within his side, with opportunities arising to allow players to step up to the plate. Indeed, creative chief Mesut Ozil, who has barely featured so far this term, can make an impact if he is called upon.
Ongoing uncertainty over the future of Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs has created a wealth of disruption. Should Arsenal keep consistent, with players proving themselves when given opportunities, Emery might just succeed at the second time of asking.