We officially have a title race, and it’s almost exactly what we all expected, right? Led by a dynamic collection of wide attackers, a big-money center-forward signing and an imperious, preternaturally-calm center-back, a team in red is giving Manchester City a run for their money at the top of the table.

Of course, the team in red is not Liverpool. No, it’s Arsenal, who haven’t qualified for the Champions League since 2016 and haven’t won the Premier League since they went undefeated in 2004. But guess what? Mikel Arteta & Co. have been even better than the Invincibles; in fact, they’ve been better than almost everyone.

Since England’s top flight became the Premier League in 1992, just four teams have won more points than the 44 Arsenal have through their first 17 matches. In 2017-18, Manchester City took 49 of a possible 52 en route to a league-record 100-point season, while Liverpool did the same two years later en route to a 99-point season. A year prior, Liverpool made it 45 from 52, ultimately ending on 97 — the fourth-most in league history … and the most by a team that didn’t win the title.

The other side to best the 44-point mark was Jose Mourinho’s second-season Chelsea in 2005-06: 46 points, ending on 91, and winning their second straight title.

Four other teams have matched Arsenal’s 17-game total, and all of them won the league. So, of the eight previous teams to reach 44 points at this stage of the season, seven of them (88%) went on to win the league. Of course, the one team that didn’t, Liverpool in 2019, was being chased by the same team and same manager, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, that are currently chasing Arsenal.

With a five-point lead atop the table and a very real shot at winning this thing, shouldn’t Arsenal be pushing more of their chips into the center of the table? Wouldn’t they, more than Chelsea, have benefitted from paying a premium to loan in a star attacker like Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix?

While the Gunners have reached this point by mostly patient building and acquiring young talent, you acquire all of the young talent so you can win the league, after all. Now, Arsenal can still win the league without doing anything this window, but wouldn’t they be more likely to win it if they brought in a couple key contributors this window?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.