One game, one quality performance and one victory over the Toots doesn’t mean Mikel Arteta has cracked it. Nor does is suddenly mean Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back, or Granit Xhaka is some kind of Saint. Yes, the victory against that lot was special, the fans were fantastic and there’s a reason to be optimistic but ten months define a season, not 95 minutes.
I’m not trying to be a killjoy and I’m all for milking a victory over our neighbours but all the good will be undone if Arsenal go to Brighton and put in a lacklustre performance. Raising the tempo for a NLD is easy, or at least it should be. A cold winters night up north is a different ball game.
Boxing Day 2020 springs to my mind, just after After has beaten Chelsea. The performance had been good and Arsenal had turned a corner. No they hadn’t, no unless that corner was going backwards.
Better teams will press us higher up the pitch, they will challenge harder for the ball and they will defend a lot lot better than Nuno’s lot did. Personally, I’d rather see how Arsenal performance consistently against stronger opposition before getting too carried away. After all, a week ago Arsenal were huffing and puffing a way past Burnley and before that, Norwich. But I think Arsenal needed those kind of performances. To struggle yet come through, to build confidence and the belief that if they keep giving and keep going, they can win. A tough win does more good than a easy one in my opinion.
But if Mikel Arteta’s teams want to prove they have what it takes to return to the top four, beating clubs like Leicester, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Wolves, Everton, Leeds, Aston Villa etc is key. Even if we can’t match City, Chelsea and Liverpool this season, our squad should be capable of beating the others. Certainly at The Emirates. Arsenal didn’t do that last season, not always anyway. What’s clear now though is that a full stadium of fans can make a huge difference and if The Arsenal team turn up, their twelfth man will be right behind them.
Arsenal need Aubameyang interested in every game and not just a NLD. Xhaka needs to stay disciplined regardless of how a game is going and Pepe, if and when he comes back into the team, needs to realise that an early ball into the box can be more beneficial than trying to dribble his way around one or two defenders unsuccessfully. Arsenal battered Toots so easily in the first half because the passing was quick and players were running off the ball. Toots couldn’t live with it and neither will a lot of teams if we continue to play that way.
Inevitably, certain managers will set their team up to try and stop Arsenal from playing the kind of football they did on Sunday but if the likes of City, Chelsea and Liverpool can find a way past a defensive setup then Arsenal should be able to too.
Defensively, I don’t think we’re as vulnerable to a counterattack now, not all the time Partey, Gabriel, White, Tierney, Tomiyasu, Lokokonga and even Xhaka and Tavares are fit. Ramsdale too. However, the fact that Son was allowed to score so easily should be a concern for Mikel Arteta.
As already said, I’m not trying to take anything away from Sunday’s performance but there’s a long way to go yet for Mikel Arteta and this group of players. But I sure as heck hope they can ‘get there’ together.
See you in the comments.