by Nia Griffiths
Arsene Wenger has reiterated the need to hit the ground running in the new season and to make a strong start.
The boss has spoken before about how crucial being consistent in the Premier League is to mounting a title challenge. Part of this consistency is to start strong and earn points early on. ‘Start as you mean to go on‘ isn’t just a saying, it’s a mentality, and when the players continue with their winning ways, it should produce more victories.
Although we’ve had a good pre-season so far, the Premier League is a different animal and carrying these results, as well as our winning mentality, into the competition is the real test.
Speaking after beating Lyon 6-0 in the Emirates Cup on Saturday, Wenger spoke about the need to make a quick start to the league.
“We have more cohesion than at the same period last year,” he said. “Everybody has a better focus. Last year was a post-World Cup year and some players came back mentally exhausted. Hopefully we can take advantage of that this season.”
However, he also believes we need to be ‘cautious‘ in our approach to the Premiership, focussing on our performances and taking it game-by-game rather than running away with ourselves.
“Let’s be cautious on that front. We finished third in the league and won the FA Cup last season. That’s a good basis, of course,” the boss said. “Our target is to do better. We know that we will put all of our effort in and that it will be very difficult because it will be a big challenge. We just want to focus on our quality. Top-level sport requires you to get the best out of your potential, so to achieve that it’s important that we focus on our own performance and do not worry too much about the others.”
Wenger added finally, “We just have to focus on being as good as we can be.”
Indeed, ambition is great and I’d be worried if our players weren’t aiming for the league. However, as Wenger said, taking our eye off the ball and watching what other teams are doing, rather than monitoring ourselves, is where we could lose focus, which could ultimately cost us.