Out of Bounds: Arsenal prepares for run toward Premier League championship

I will preface this article by stating that I'm an avid Arsenal fan (for those of you not in the know, Arsenal is an English soccer team). I watch the games, I wear the bar scarf and I've even been caught singing a chant or two in the shower (in a horrible British accent, nonetheless).

That being said, it's only natural that I'm hoping for the Gunners to bring the Premier League title home this season. But the question on every Arsenal fan's mind is whether the team will finally win the title or have another season of falling just short.

Arsenal last held the Premier League title in the 2003-2004 season under the dynamite leadership oaf Thierry Henry. Since then, the team has consistently been in the top tier, falling only to Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool in rankings. This season, the Gunners have held a firm grasp on the No. 2 slot, perpetually a few points behind Man U. Still, it's going to take a lot more than a few chance losses from Man U for Arsenal to reign supreme this year. The team will have to maintain a solid lead over the other top-tier contenders, recover some of its key players and not give up any losses from here on out.

In the current standings, Arsenal is situated comfortably in second place. The Gunners have a six-point lead over the No. 3-ranked team, Manchester City, an eight-point lead over Chelsea, and a nine-point run on rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Though it is imperative that Arsenal doesn't allow these teams to close the gap, it will be a struggle to prevent such an outcome. Man City and Tottenham have been impending forces all season, and Chelsea recently hit its stride with the acquisition of star striker Fernando Torres and a convincing upset over Man U on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Liverpool has regained its form in recent weeks, battling from as low as 13th place to its current sixth-place claim. Arsenal cannot allow a dip in its stance, and the team must keep a close eye on its competition.

Another vital component in Arsenal's quest to claim the title is a full recovery of key players. Both winger Theo Walcott and midfielder Cesc Fabregas, the team's captain, got injured in last Wednesday's match versus Stoke City. Robin van Persie, current team leader in goals this season, took a huge blow in Sunday's Carlington Cup game versus Birmingham.

Marouane Chamakh, who contributed many goals at the start of the season, has fallen considerably out of form. He told Arsenal.com, "By the start of January, I felt that I had completely lost my edge … I am only human." Well, it's time for some super-human recoveries or Arsenal may as well kiss the title goodbye.

Most importantly, Arsenal cannot lose from this point onward. There are still a few months left in the season that includes some decisive run-ins with top-tier forces, but if the Gunners want a serious run at the title, they cannot give up any matches. Perhaps the real test will be May 1, when Arsenal seeks its revenge against Man U on home turf at Emirates Stadium. It could be a pivotal showdown that will perhaps provide just the win Arsenal needs to secure the league title.

All together now: "We all follow the Arsenal, over land and sea. We all follow the Arsenal, onto victory!"