Over the course of three hours football at the Emirates in the last week, the Arsenal have showed an impressive resilience to go with an increased level of control in their game with five wins out of five, but can they make it six against Manchester United?.
On Saturday against Fulham, we saw scenes of such wild abandon they prompted Richard Keys to comment not once, but twice and then write a blog on how he felt we overdid our celebrations.
In doing so, he obviously massively disrespected Fulham Football Club. He also stripped Arsenal’s celebrations from their context. It wasn’t just that we beat Fulham, it was how we did it and what it meant.
Having completely dominated the game, we conceded a goal after a mistake from Gabriel allowed Mitrovic to pick his pocket and put the visitors one up. That Arsenal were able to instantly hit back, albeit fortuitously, through Martin Odegaard said something about us.
That the winning goal, with just minutes on the clock, came from the aforementioned Gabriel said something about him.
Having won the game, we extended the only 100% record left in the Premier League [edit – all four English divisions], which, of course meant that we remained top of the table.
Yes, we’re only just into September; no, the league table doesn’t mean very much after five games. But having been 3/12 at this point last season, I know where I’d rather be.
I think the crucial thing to remember, and what Richard Keys has obviously forgotten, is that our celebrations – and more to the point, Mikel Arteta’s – aren’t for Richard Keys benefit. They are for us, for our players and for the fans who have played such a part in transforming what has historically been regarded as one of the least atmospheric grounds in the country into – well, a bit of a bear pit.
Arteta spoke at his very first press conference about the importance of getting the fans onside. Forgotten it? Let me remind you what he said, “Obviously now we need an immediate impact, we need to start winning games, we need to start to raise the level of confidence of the players, and finally we need the fans.
“We need to engage them, we need to be able to transmit with our behaviours, our intentions, what we want to bring to this football club. I think that’s the only way, where we give them a little bit, they give us a little bit, and suddenly we feel that connection, because when plug plug these two things together, it is so powerful”
I think we can say now that we are a fully engaged fanbase and are seeing the truth of Arteta’s words. Perhaps for the first time in the Emirates era, we are learning – together – how powerful we can be when connected.
Personally, I’m loving what I’m seeing now from the manager.
One of my one concerns with him has been that he, until now, has been quite a taciturn, joyless presence in (and out of) our technical area. To a certain extent, the All Or Nothing series allayed some of those fears, but, even allowing for the PR nature of the exercise, I think we see now a manager who, after a traumatic opening period in the job, is finding his way and relaxing into the role. He should feel happy about what he’s seeing from his team at the moment.
Especially after the midweek performance at home to Aston Villa.
Okay, yes, a 2-1 victory is nothing to shout about (we know Richard, thank you), but anyone who watched that game knows that the Villa were incredibly flattered by the scoreline.
Not only was some of the football utterly mesmeric, so mesmeric in fact that I think we just forgot to stick the ball away at several points, the intensity we showed in winning the ball back was a real sight to behold. The truly joyous thing for me was the sight of Granit Xhaka excelling in his performance, helping Sambi Lokonga to put in an exceptional 45 minutes at the base of midfield – I think it’s no small thing to be able to come into a team relatively cold and perform like that.
Ahead of them – well, Martinelli, Saka and Jesus are proving to be absolute nightmares for an opposition defence. I thought Saka’s close control and dribbling was the best it’s been so far this season and the two goalscoring Gabriels are just relentless.
Jesus is already one goal away from matching Alexandre Lacazette’s Premier League tally from last season – how we managed to get this guy for less than we paid for Laca five years ago is truly mind boggling.
As for Martinelli, he scored the winning goal and was denied a genuine goal of the season contender by a great save from Emi “he’s better than you, Aaron Ramsdale, he’s better than you” Martinez.
Full of running and, crucially, menace and the winning goal, my only complaint about him is his decision making sometimes. He had opportunities to play in Jesus & the Smith which would have made life as comfortable as it should have been.
A word too for Saliba! Five games in and we have a new hero. I thought against Villa was his most difficult to date in an Arsenal shirt, but he has started life at Arsenal and in the Premier League like a firework and not like a Catherine Wheel that doesn’t quite know what it’s doing. Long may it continue.
What’s that? Old Trafford at the weekend, is it? Oh well.
Seriously, playing like this, I don’t think Arsenal have to fear anyone and if we can keep going as we have on Sunday, we will win the game.
But, we have to keep it going.
There are said to be only two universal truths in life, death and taxes.
I’d like to add another, it’s 75,011 Mancunians smelling blood whenever the Arsenal roll into town.
I hope, this time, we’re ready for them.