Results have been a bit of a mixed bag for us since Friday, but still positive. Arsenal will be 3 points off top 4, regardless of how the rest of Sunday’s games go (United getting pummelled, so we’re on the same points as them).
That’s where we need to be on January 1st. Why does that date matter? Because my suspicion is that by then, our players will have bedded into the club, performances will be of a higher level because the cognitive style of the system will have matured, and we don’t have any Europe to contend with, so we’ll be fresher.
Post-Christmas last season was very good for us. If we’d been within spitting distance of top 4 by January, we’d have been in the top 4 at the end of the season. It wasn’t to be.
The big difference this season is that at about this time last year, we were about to go on a massive dip in form. We weren’t creating chances, we weren’t dining off low-margins games, and the mood at the training ground was spoiled by dickheads we eventually shipped out.
This season feels a little bit different.
We’ve had an absolutely horrendous dip and it appears we’ve moved on from it. Unbeaten in 7 games.
The football has been up and down but there are some consistent threads.
Generally, we’ve started well this season. It’s been high impact from the off. We were good against Chelsea for the opening 20. We asked questions of City until we collapsed. Every game we’ve started with a rocket up our backsides.
We’re creating chances now. We’re 5th in the table for shots per game. 14.6 so far. That’s including our disastrous Chelsea and City games. To contextualise the progress, last season we were averaging 12.1 shots p/g which had us in 11th. The season before 10.7, which had us in 15th. Our current clip of shots would have us equal with Chelsea for the whole of last season. So it’s good progress and chunky progress. If you are asking whether this new team can create with that data, you aren’t paying attention.
We still need to score more goals. Chelsea had a lower shot output against Norwich than we did… but they scored 7 goals without a striker. We need to find a more clinical edge. Goals can’t just be on the shoulders of Auba and Lacazette. We need Saka, Partey, ESR and our full-backs to chip in.
Defensively, there’s still some work to do. We’re giving up a lot of shots over the average of all our games. Part of that has been driven by our bad start, part of that is we haven’t shown a consistent ability to control games. We let Palace and Brighton have at us because we didn’t have the bravery to play through them. We also have a LOT of new players in our team, so it’ll take time to find our feet there. The first half against Villa was our best outing defensively. We hoovered up first and second balls. We attacked their outlets. We pressed with smarts. We used off the ball movement really well. That’s the standard, we have to do it more often.
The biggest improvement since the break is basically having one absolute banger of a performance. The Goldilocks football was going to grate fans if it didn’t improve. The club needed to show that all this new specificity we signed in the summer was going to amount to some sexy football. We saw a half of it against Spurs, then we saw 80% of a banger against Villa.
James over at The Athletic crystalised where are quite nicely.
Fans are waiting for the football to bang. Like it’ll be one moment and we’ll never look back. That’s not going to happen, it’ll be a slow fizz into consistency. Matt from the podcast teed it up nicely. At the moment, we’re 1 good performance in 3. Next move is 1 good performance every 2 games. Then we try to move to the Chelsea, City, Liverpool levels of hitting high standards in every game.
Not having to deal with Europe should help us get there faster.
I do find it odd that people come on here after a win and accuse me of crowing. We’re all Arsenal fans, if you don’t feel a win is yours as well as mine, what are you doing? I’m just an opinion, why would you battle me to the detriment of your support for the club?
I’ve said the same things all season… this will be up and down. Palace isn’t the last bad performance. Villa won’t be the last big performance. What people need to do is to move away from catastrophising every mistake or result that doesn’t go our way. It’s not helpful to anyone.
We have the ingredients for a good season:
1. The 6 players we signed this summer are all getting rave reviews for talent, specificity, and character
2. The football is getting better slowly but surely
3. Arteta is learning from mistakes. Someone accused him of tinkering yesterday like that was an insult. If you watched Brighton and Palace and didn’t appreciate the manager had to tinker with the system, then I can’t help you. Football isn’t a simple game in 2021, it’s a science.
4. Our big names are showing up for the club. Auba is BACK. 7 goals in 9 this season. Lacazette was a difference-maker yesterday. Gabriel is showing that he has no ceiling. Thomas Partey is FIT and apparently firing. If the seniors aren’t good this season, we’ll fail. I love that they are stepping up to the plate.
5. The fans in the stadium are creating the best atmosphere in YEARS. You love to hear it. It sounds like fun. Long may that support continue. It’s special.
Something that isn’t so cool…
There’s a bit of a thing going on in the Arsenal community where fans are starting to go after people they deem as for-profit catastrophisers. The trend is to spot a ‘personality’ that makes content, then video yourself doing something classless to them. There’s a horrible video of Ty, who I don’t know, being abused by fans who won’t let him exit the building.
I know that certain creators rile people. That guy that screams in his car is not my favourite, but it’s his right to scream in the car, it’s others right to enjoy his car shrieking activities, and if by chance his screaming earns him enough to buy a new car, good for him… I salute that he found a market.
No one speaks for you online. If you think AFTV embarrasses the club, fine… but I tell you what is more embarrassing. Boxing a man into the stadium so he can’t get out when he’s on his own. That’s cowardly. That makes Arsenal fans look bad. We can’t be applauding that. I hope we move on from it.
Finally, there’s a story doing the rounds that we’re going to sell Dino and Matteo for £11m. How do deals like that happen? What have we done to protect ourselves against Marseille and Stuttgart flipping those players like Atalanta flipped Romero? Why would you tie two high ceiling players to a shit fee? We are awful at selling, but these two deals just stink to me. I don’t want Matteo back, but I also don’t want him floating away for nothing when he’s getting called up the French national team.
Right, that’s me done. See you in the comments.