Arsenal finally have their first win of the season! A 1-0 home win against pointless Norwich might not seem like something to celebrate but for any Gooner who has watched the first few games of the season, anything other than a win was unacceptable.
The performance was a bonus, and according to Squawka, Saturday’s effort of 30 shots was the most that Arsenal have had in a Premier League game since December 2017.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s 66th-minute goal was enough to beat the newly promoted Canaries. Handball and offside complaints from Norwich were (rightly, of course) waved away and Auba slotted in from a yard out after some tenacious work from Nicolas Pepe.
Our first Premier League goal of the season and the relief in the Emirates was palpable. The fact that we only converted one of thirty shots could be seen as a cause for concern but given the struggles thus far this season, one goal was more than enough on Saturday.
A Poor Start
It has been a rough start to the season for the club.
Bottom of the league after three games, no goals scored and nine conceded, Arsenal have been the punching bag for all the memes and banter accounts on social media. There is always a crisis club in this league and for a couple of weeks, it has been Arsenal.
Also, it hasn’t exactly helped that a certain much smaller and less successful club across North London won their first three games and were top of the league.
Thanks to Crystal Palace, nature is healing, and a Spurs loss followed by an Arsenal win made for the perfect Saturday.
Defeats to Brentford, Chelsea, and Man City were obviously not the way we wanted to start the new season. It is impossible to argue that we deserved to win any of these games, but there were some extenuating circumstances in each game.
Missing key players and facing a raucous crowd and a newly promoted team right up for their first-ever Premier League game. It is not the first time that Arsenal have been bullied and outmuscled physically by a smaller side, and it is definitely something that Mikel Arteta has to work on going forward.
Chelsea at home was an out and out poor defensive display, and Granit Xhaka’s early sending off spelt doom at the Etihad.
The effort shown by the remaining ten players was praiseworthy, but nobody can sugar coat a 5-0 loss, especially a club of Arsenal’s stature. A win and a clean sheet against Norwich can be a springboard to start the season.
Next Six Games
- Burnley (A)
- Spurs (H)
- Brighton (A)
- Palace (H)
- Villa (H)
- Leicester (A)
The next six games are huge in continuing momentum and establishing a platform for the rest of the season.
We are unbeaten in our last seven trips to Turf Moor and can continue that given the Clarets’ poor start.
Spurs is huge; in front of a full Emirates, getting a result is all-important.
Brighton, Palace, and Villa present their own challenges, but Arteta will look to Aubameyang and Pepe to show their quality and be the difference.
A trip to Leicester will be difficult, but we have won our last two away games against the Foxes.
Where Will We Finish?
Fans are split as to what the aim is this season.
A return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016 seems unlikely, as Paul Merson recently stated “they won’t finish in the top four.
But if Mikel Arteta gets them together, they could finish fifth or sixth and that would be progress.”
Looking at the Top 4 odds makes for some grim reading for Gooners. Coral football betting odds have us at 11/1 to finish in the Top 4. This is a far cry from the twenty consecutive Top 4 finishes under Arsene Wenger, but a lot has changed since the Frenchman departed.
Expectations have certainly shifted. In fact, there is no European football for Arsenal this season, which means we can focus more on a strong position in the league.
A decent cup run and a return to some form of European football next season would satisfy most Arsenal fans. The 6-0 win over West Brom got the EFL Cup run off to a good start, and with a record 14 FA Cups to our name, we can never be ruled out of going far.
The quality of some of the other sides in the league means Champions League qualification is almost certainly out of reach. Manchester United with Ronaldo, and Chelsea with the addition of Lukaku and Saul look strong. Liverpool and especially Manchester City have been consistently financially backed and have bigger and better squads than us right now.
Arteta is putting together a young and hungry side and looking to change a lot in a short spell of time.
The term ‘transition period’ is overused but this is one for us. Emile Smith Rowe being given the number 10 shirt is a huge symbol of how Arteta looks to shape the club.
The signing of Ben White is a good one and comparisons to United’s purchase of Raphael Varane are unfair and purely short term.
It is a huge season for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta and another eighth place finish, below the likes of West Ham and Tottenham, is unacceptable.