When the Gunners lost 4-0 to Liverpool just a week after yet another failure to overturn Stoke away from home it looked like the team was in for another long season.
Now Arsenal are up to fifth in the table, just one point behind Tottenham in third, and are looking at fixtures against the likes of Watford and Everton whilst Manchester United face Liverpool, Liverpool face Spurs and Spurs face United before the month is over. An even better chance to improve the picture before the annual horror show November brings.
So how have Arsenal turned things round?
Undoubtedly, one element has been the easier fixture list, but that’s not the whole story.
The European outings could easily have been slip-ups if the reserve teams hadn’t stepped up, Chelsea was set to be a battering if you believed fans on social media and winning the rest of the matches comfortably is exactly what Arsenal will want to do against the smaller clubs all season.
One other element is that, unlike last season, the onus isn’t entirely on the forwards to get the goals.
The people I watched games with last year probably got sick of me telling them about how none of our central midfielders had scored more than two league goals all season, and how our defenders never get on the score-sheet like, say, Chelsea’s do.
The last month or so seemed a bit more promising.
Bellerín and Monreal scored in the league, Kolašinac and Holding in Europe. The midfield are still slacking but I can handle that for now. Plus when six of the Gunners’ front-three options score (Giroud, Lacazette, Iwobi, Alexis, Walcott and Welbeck) I can’t complain about over-reliance on one or two players.
Those defenders have (generally) also managed to score without leaking goals at the other end. Rob Holding’s goal is the only exception as his slip left him partially responsible for BATE Borisov’s second, but even he put in a good performance to keep another clean sheet against Brighton, so it’s been more good than bad at both ends for most of the defenders.
It’d be harsh for me to write off the contribution of that midfield just because they haven’t scored, as well. Ramsey was unlucky not to get a goal against Chelsea, Wilshere has been excellent and Elneny has moved from consistently average to consistently above average.
Don’t say it too loudly, but even Xhaka was showing shades of his best football against Brighton after a poor September.
Again, the fixture list was favourable, this all has to be taken in that context.
But then it’s only because the first five games were so unfavourable that everyone went into crisis mode in the first place. That and Arsenal deciding to take their Sunday at Anfield off.
This time around we could’ve done without the international break, but hopefully we’ll get more of the same on the team’s return.